One year after Coastal Fire in Laguna Niguel, residents of more than 20 homes remain displaced

Jessica De Nova Image
Sunday, May 14, 2023
1 year after Coastal Fire, Laguna Niguel residents remain displaced
One year after the Coastal Fire ripped through the Coronado Pointe community, owners of the 20 homes destroyed by the flames were still displaced.

LAGUNA NIGUEL, Calif. (KABC) -- One year after the devasting Coastal Fire ripped through the Coronado Pointe community of Laguna Niguel, owners of the 20 homes destroyed by the flames are still displaced.

Ramin Yazdi walked ABC7 through his property on Thursday. The home where he and his wife raised their children is now a vacant lot.

"I was sort of in retirement mode and was planning on retiring here and not moving anywhere else and the last thing I wanted to do is become a home builder," Yazdi said.

Thursday marked one year after the 200-acre Coastal Fire ripped through the neighborhood, destroying 20 homes and damaging another 11.

Yazdi, the president of the local homeowners association, said of about a dozen homeowners in various stages of the rebuilding process, he knew of at least two with building permits in hand.

Though the cause remained under investigation by the Orange County Fire Authority, the Laguna Beach Department and CAL FIRE, nearly 200 plaintiffs in a mass-action lawsuit accused Southern California Edison.

Richard Bridgford was the attorney representing the homeowners who were displaced or evacuated.

Families who lost their homes in the Coastal Fire are suing Southern California Edison, claiming the utility is to blame for the blaze that destroyed 20 homes and consumed 200 acres.

"The lawsuit alleges that the failure of Southern California Edison to maintain its lines and to properly implement vegetation mitigation measures led to the disaster," Bridgford said.

The weather was not unusual for the area on that humid spring afternoon, but the daily, cool ocean breeze carried the flames up the canyon creating spot fires and taking over homes built before the early 2000s.

OCFA Fire Chief explained though the residents did an excellent job of keeping a defensible space around their homes, the older construction of the houses which was not up to current residential building code stood no chance against the hot embers.

"The embers intruded at the attic space between the attic and the you could see light smoke. You'd go into those homes through the front door and fire was already running the attic so they burnt from the top down," Fennessy said.

In a phone interview, Jeff Monford of Southern California Edison told Eyewitness News:

"Our thoughts remain with the two firefighters who were injured and the residents whose homes were destroyed or damaged by the Coastal Fire. With safety as our number one priority, we continue to make progress our wildfire mitigation efforts through grid hardening, situational awareness and enhanced operational practices."

According OCFA Communications Director Matt Olson, the injuries to the two firefighters were minor.

Yazdi said that along with compensation for their loss, homeowners wanted changes made to the SoCal Edison power lines standing at the bottom of the canyon.

"We want to make sure that these wires get buried," Yazdi said, "because even if we are whole -- even if get everything back, even if we get over the fact that we don't have any of our memories and all those other things -- and we build another home, we're still going to have to live with that potential fire again if that thing is still dangling out there."

According to Yazdi, of the 20 homeowners with destroyed homes, only one has sold their property.

Yazdi said they all looked forward to completion of the last home to celebrate with a block party and make the neighborhood what it was before the Coastal Fire.