Fire Department reports more calls over holidays

Warm holiday weather drew crowds to Newport Beach, leading to an increase in emergency calls for lifeguards and firefighters.

About 201,000 people visited the beach between Dec. 24 and Monday. Lifeguards responded to 31 first-aid calls and took preventive measures, such as diverting swimmers from riptides, which kept 172 incidents from escalating to rescues.

The warm temperatures — reaching into the 80s over New Year's weekend — and decent swells were the likely cause for the throngs of revelers at Newport Beach's shoreline, said Newport Beach Fire Department spokeswoman Jennifer Schulz.

The lifeguards were kept busy, she said.

The Fire Department also released the total number of emergency calls for 2011.

Last year, firefighters responded to 9,811 calls, compared with 9,769 in 2010. Among the calls were 6,584 medical aid calls, a drop from 7,148 in 2010. Firefighters also received fewer calls about fires, responding to 199 in 2011 compared with 338 the previous year.

Firefighters did see an increase in calls for hazardous materials, though, at 170 incidents compared with 118 from 2010.

The 2011 hazardous materials calls included two in September where 100 people were evacuated near Fashion Island after an unidentified odor filled an office building, sending eight to the hospital; and a call about a 5-gallon bucket labeled "radioactive materials" outside Hoag Hospital.

Twitter: @lawilliams30

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