Non-disclosure agreements, unreachable investigators, and a literal half-burned paper trail puts local government in the hot seat.
It’s been just over a year since the Laguna Niguel Coastal Fire destroyed millions of dollars in homes and scorched the Earth between Laguna Beach, Aliso Viejo, and Laguna Niguel, but burning questions still remain.
The Coastal Fire was blamed on Socal Edison not maintaining brush around its power lines. Coronado Pointe residents were quick to sue SCE even without a final investigative result. Shortly after the fire reports came out that Calfire, Orange County Fire Authority (OCFA), SCE and Laguna Beach City Council were all signing non-disclosure agreements to facilitate the quest to figure out the cause of the fire.
About 2 weeks after the fire I returned from an extended business trip and investigated the areas around the fire, especially the area around Pacific Island Drive and Clubhouse. The first chance I got, I went up the hill on the south side of Pacific Island Drive to survey the secondary fire that forced many neighbors to evacuate.
The area in question where these papers burned were part of a secondary burn that caused 6 additional streets to evacuate. This area is not close to homes and with the nature of scattered winds the day of the fire, it’s unlikely that these burning papers spread from any homes. The only way these papers would have gotten there would have been either by hand, or by car.
After recording the location of the papers, in some cases under partially burned acacias, I gathered them up and began reaching out to OCFA to provide the evidence. It took weeks to get a call back, despite supposed ongoing investigations. When I finally did get a call back, I missed the call and was ultimately unable to connect with anyone at OCFA regarding what appears to be a pretty obvious and undiscovered act of arson. It makes you wonder how many other elements of that fire were not properly investigated, especially with government and private institutions cowering in fear behind NDA’s.
I still have these papers in a ziplock bag. Attempts to identify the printer were fruitless.
Additional reports have stated that the reason for lack of air support in the fire was that conveniently on that exact date all the large water carrier planes were out of the area on a training exercise.
So on an obvious red flag fire alert day, we had
- SCE conducting electrical work in a brush area
- OCSD dismantled it’s water carrier for helicopters
- (Alleged) Large Water Planes out of the area
- Multiple agencies and cities signing non-disclosure agreements
- Investigators not investigating potential arson