A brush fire that burned hundreds of acres along the coast of Orange County was sending smoke into some parts of San Diego County, residents reported Thursday.
Viewer Sherry Spencer sent a photo showing a haze of smoke over the Oceanside Pier, which is about 30 miles south of where a fire started in the Aliso Woods Canyon area between Laguna Niguel and Laguna Beach at about 2:45 p.m. Wednesday.
A smoke advisory was issued for parts of Orange County Thursday but had not yet affected San Diego County.
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The South Coast Air Quality Management District recommends those who smell smoke or see ash to limit exposure by remaining indoors with windows and doors closed or seeking alternate shelter and avoiding vigorous physical activity.
Fire officials said the small fire, driven by gusty winds in the 20- to 30-mph range, climbed quickly up the canyon and towards several multimillion-dolllar homes on a hillside. It has since been dubbed the Coastal Fire.
At least 200 acres had been scorched and 20 homes have burned by Thursday morning, Orange County fire officials said in a press conference. Firefighters worked aggressively to contain the blaze overnight and would continue their efforts Thursday.
More than 100 firefighters from San Diego County were in Laguna Niguel helping to fight the coastal fire.
At least 900 homes were evacuated as the fire spread. It was only a matter of minutes before many were destroyed by the relentless fire. One evacuee described how fast it happened.
"I saw flashes of fires just coming in my house and that's the time I left with my wife," said Abi Farsoni, who left his computer, and everything he owns. "It's horrible for residents. You don't know if your home is still there. We don't know. I have a lot of things. I didn't have time to take them."
He later found out his home was still standing.
Details about how the fire started were not immediately available. Southern California Edison reported possible "circuit activity" at about the time the fire started Wednesday afternoon. NBCLA has reached out to the utility for details.
The U.S. West is facing mega-drought that has left hillsides covered in dry brush that provides fuel for wildfires. California is coming off one of it driest winters on record, adding to concerns about how quickly brush fires can spread, especially in windy conditions.