Photo by John Schreiber.
Photo by John Schreiber.

A fun day in Laguna Beach turned to a nightmare for thousands of people Sunday evening as they tried to return home and found the main highway back to the San Diego (405) Freeway shut down due a roaring out-of-control brush fire in the Laguna Coast Wilderness Park.

Firefighters were dispatched to the blaze about 1 p.m. inside the park on the west side of Laguna Canyon Road, according to the Orange County Fire Authority Capt. Tony Bommarito. Laguna Canyon Road, also known in parts as Route 133, was closed as the flames grew.

While no structures were damaged and no injuries reported, the only viable alternate route away from the hip, pricey village of Laguna Beach was to head north or south along the coastal highway. As thousands of motorists were already doing just that as a lovely weekend ended, traffic came to a crawl in spots.

But motorists weren’t the only ones having access problems due to the wilderness fire in the hills between Laguna Beach and the freeway.

“The fire is inside the park, so we’re having access problems now,” Bommarito said.

About 35 acres have been burned as of 3:15 p.m. and 120 firefighters are working the scene, he said.

There was zero percent containment, but the objective for the time being was to hold the flames at the ridges, Bommarito said.

The blaze isn’t threatening any structures and no injuries have been reported.

The CHP reported Route 133 was closed between Laguna Beach to the San Diego (405) Freeway. And in the middle of that closure area, the offramps from the Route 73 Toll Road to Laguna Canyon and El Toro Road were also closed.

Coastal Peak Park at Ridge Park Road and east Coastal Peak is closed due to fire helicopters landing there to assist the brush effort, according to Newport Beach Police.

Ridge Park Road will be closed at Ziani and at east Coastal Peak, police said.

The steep and brushy canyon has been the site of numerous brushfires in past years.

–City News Service

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