The 1993 Fire Storm was a defining moment for many Laguna Beach
residents. They date events B.F. and A.F., before and after the fire.
Others would just as soon forget the whole thing.
“You can’t dwell on the past,” said Martha Lydick, who lost her
Lydick took only her jewelry, her cat, Damon, and her Shelby Cobra
when she and her late husband, Lawrence Lydick, left their Mystic
Hills home that October day in 1993. “Unless there is a brush fire in
However, memories can be buried only so deep.
“You go to look for something or talk about something and say to
yourself, “Oh yeah, I used to have that,” Lydick said.
She rebuilt her home. It is surrounded by mostly new or remodeled
homes. Her neighborhood was one of the hardest-hit by the fire.
Ron Rodecker, Sawdust Festival exhibitor and originator of PBS’s
Dragon Tales, evacuated when the fire came within a half-block of the
Top of the World home he shares with his wife, Katherine, their two
dogs and two cats.
“We took our computer and some reproductions of my work, but the
main thing was us and the pets,” Rodecker said. “The rest is just
The Rodeckers took separate cars and headed down Temple Hills
“It was packed,” he said. “We only got about a half a mile in an
hour when the police came and told us to get out of our cars and walk
out; the fire was on its way up.”
The Rodeckers turned their cars around and headed for the fire
road. She went on to Irvine; he stayed in town at a friend’s house to
keep tabs on their home.
“I went up there at about 10 p.m., that night,” Rodecker said.
“Everything was so disorganized they let me through. But my home was
“There are so many stories,” he said. “One family packed
everything into one car and then locked themselves out. They had to
take another car. The packed car burned, their house didn’t.”
Laguna Beach firefighter Carl Klass was fighting the fire in
Emerald Bay when the garage to his Laguna Canyon home burned down.
City Manager Ken Frank worked throughout the devastating day, that
night and the next day. Many folks didn’t realize he lost his home.
Then City Councilman Bob Gentry lost his home and a rental property.
He wore borrowed clothes for the next week.
Ann and Charlie Quilter’s Laguna Canyon home survived the fire,
but was destroyed in the 1998 landslide.
She was Downtown when the fire broke out. He was at the El Toro
Marine Air Base, playing golf for the first time in about a decade.
He walked back home from the point where vehicular traffic was
“We met again three days later,” she said. “We communicated
through my father in Florida, because there were no local lines.”
Quilter picked up the couple’s two children, Emily and C. J., from
school and they ended up at a friend’s home in Three Arch Bay.
Artist Iris Adam also stayed here, but not by choice.
“When they put out the evacuation call, the electricity went off
and I couldn’t get my garage door open,” Adam said. “A neighbor tried
to open it, but he couldn’t either. So I took my cat Daisy and my
stuff from the car back into the house. Then I went back and forth
from one side of the house to the other to see how close the fire was
Although Adam has trouble walking, she set an arbitrary fire sight
line as a signal to take to her heels. She didn’t have to.
Adam said she was scared to death, but neither her home nor the
Art-A-Fair Grounds, which she owns, burned.
Despite the disheartening loss of property, there was no loss of
life that Oct. 27. And the town came together in an astonishing
display of community. The fire broke out on a Wednesday. By Friday
donations of clothing and household goods overflowed the Laguna
Presbyterian Church, and still more came in.
The Fire Relief Coalition was created to process the donations and
assist property owners who lost all possessions. The Resource Center
is a lasting legacy of the fire.
“When you think about what happened, it has to be one of, if not
the major event in Laguna,” former Mayor Neil Fitzpatrick said. “It
impacted so many people in so many ways. The only comparable event
would be the Bluebird Canyon slide, where people lost not only their
homes, but their land.”