Mandatory evacuations lifted in Aliso fire

An Orange County firefighter extinguishes a small spot fire on the Soka University of America campus in Aliso Viejo on Saturday.
(Stuart Palley / For The Times)

Orange County firefighters continue to battle a 150-acre brush fire in the hills above Laguna Beach, but all mandatory evacuations had been lifted by Sunday night.

The fire remained 40% contained, and it is no longer spreading.

“The fire has been stopped,” said Orange County Fire Authority Battalion Chief Mike Summers, adding that some 400 firefighters were still “actively mopping up the hot spots.”

He said no structures have been lost or remained in danger. Three firefighters suffered non-life-threatening injuries.


The fire started shortly after 1 p.m. Saturday below the Top of the World scenic lookout point and behind Soka University of America, fire officials said.

“The biggest battle has been the thick brush that hasn’t burned in over 100 years, and the erratic winds,” said Orange County Fire Authority Capt. Tony Bommarito. Six air tankers and four helicopters were enlisted to fight the blaze, he said.

The flames chewed through brush left bone dry by years of drought across Southern California. The region saw a devastating fire season last year, with homes lost from San Diego to Bel-Air, and from Sylmar to Montecito. The Thomas fire in Ventura and Santa Barbara counties made history as the largest on record in California.

Experts have warned that the continued dry conditions throughout the region increase the chances for more big fires this summer.

Costa Mesa High School’s prom at Soka University was postponed a week due to the fire, school officials said.

On Saturday, an evacuation center was set up at the Susi Q Center, 380 3rd St., Laguna Beach. A Red Cross shelter was also opened at Aliso Niguel High School, 28000 Wolverine Way, Aliso Viejo.


Fire authorities are seeking the public’s health to determine how the fire started.

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5:55 p.m.: This article was updated with new information from the Orange County Fire Authority.

This article was originally posted at 9:20 a.m.