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SURFING SOAPBOX: Laguna holds its breath

Emotions are running high as a huge gust of the dreaded Santa Ana wind continues to blow.

Actually right now it’s howling, fanning the flames of the many fires that surround our beloved Laguna, on this, the 14-year anniversary of the last fire here. I remember that day vividly in October, 1993 — and the fire before that was 14 years before. Now, at least, it seems that fire is everywhere but here.

Awakening to the gray smoked-filled skies and that awful smell of smoke brought back lots of unwanted memories of that fateful day 14 years ago when our town lost more than 300 homes. I was downtown Monday night with my friend Jessica when you could just begin to see the Irvine fire and I can tell you that people were walking out of stores and pointing to the sky and commenting on the smoke that was coming from just beyond Laguna Canyon road.

Watching the news on this hot and dry night, Laguna Beach seems almost at a standstill. I have only heard such quietness after tragic events in Laguna. Today, like 14 years ago, there was again a southwest swell serving up waves in the 3-5 foot range.


Sadly I will be boarding a plane tomorrow morning at 8 a.m.headed for Osaka, Japan. I say sadly because I certainly do not like leaving my family and town under such conditions. I would rather stay in case of an emergency but hopefully our town will be spared.

The last fire was more than enough and I hope that our City Manager and City Council are watching the news to remind them how vital their support is for our emergency services to have the necessary resources to be prepared for such terrible events.

Laguna, I’m keeping my fingers crossed for you.



JAMES PRIBRAM is a Laguna Beach native, professional surfer and founder of the Aloha School of Surfing. He can be reached at