Smoke and fire trucks
The sky glows red from the flames of the fire near Soka University. Courtesy OCFA

Orange County firefighters said Sunday they are making good progress battling a wind-driven brush fire that consumed at least 200 acres and threatened structures near a canyon between Aliso Viejo and Laguna Beach.

The fire was reported at 1:07 p.m. Saturday in Wood Canyon behind Soka University of America, Orange County Fire Authority Capt. Tony Bommarito said.

By 6:30 p.m. the fire reportedly had consumed 250 acres, Bommarito said. That figure was reduced to 200 acres at 8:40 p.m.. Updates were expected to resume at 8:30 a.m. Sunday.

The fire threatened structures at Soka University of America and the Top of the World neighborhood of Laguna Beach. There was no containment at 4:30 a.m.

Satruday afternoon and early evening, six air tankers and four helicopters made drops of water and fire retardant along the perimeter of the fire, Bommarito said. Two helicopters remained in the air after dark. Air support was crucial to keeping the fire at bay.

One firefighter suffered a minor leg injury, Bommarito said.

Mandatory evacuations began at 5:30 p.m. in Aliso Viejo affecting about 2,000 homes in the area of Wood Canyon and Pacific Park drives. an evacuation shelter opened at Aliso Niguel High School, 28000 Wolverine Way, the city of Aliso Viejo said. Those evacuations were lifted at 9 p.m. after the fire no longer threatened the homes.

About 1,500 residents were evacuated from Top of the World and the Old Top of the World and the evacuees were sent to the Susi Q Center at 380 Third St. in Laguna Beach, Laguna Beach police said. Those evacuations continued overnight, Bommarito said.

More than 400 firefighters were battling the blaze including multiple engines in place for structure defense, he said.

Both ends of Wood Canyon Road were closed and residents who left their homes were not allowed to return due to smoke and ash and a need to keep roads clear for first responders, authorities said.

Costa Mesa High School’s prom scheduled for Saturday night at Soka University was postponed a week, according to the Newport-Mesa Unified School District.

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