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California's coastal fire has destroyed at least 20 homes

A plane drops fire retardant onto the fire on Thursday in Laguna Niguel, Calif.
Marcio Jose Sanchez
A plane drops fire retardant onto the fire on Thursday in Laguna Niguel, Calif.

At least 20 homes have been destroyed after a fire, dubbed the Coastal Fire, erupted in Orange County, Calif., according to Orange County Fire Authority Chief Brian Fennessy. The cause of the fire, which stretched about 200 acres as of Thursday morning, remains under investigation.

Orange County Fire Authority public information officer Capt. Greg Barta said about 550 firefighters were battling the fire.

"Crews worked diligently and very hard throughout the night and made great progress," Barta said in a video on social media Thursday morning. "We expect that to continue today."

One firefighter was injured while combatting the blaze and was taken to a hospital, said assistant chief of field operations for Orange County Fire Authority TJ McGovern.

The fire began just before 3 p.m. Wednesday between the cities of Laguna Beach and Laguna Niguel. When firefighters first reached the scene, they estimated the blaze was about half an acre to one acre in size, McGovern said.

McGovern said containment numbers were not yet available.

About 900 homes were under evacuation orders, said Capt. Virgil Asuncion of Orange County's sheriff department. The American Red Cross Southern California Region said it assisted 19 people affected by the fire Wednesday.

According to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, this year there have been more than 1,500 fire incidents in California and estimates more than 6,700 acres have been burned. Meanwhile in New Mexico, firefighters are fighting a blaze that exceeds 200,000 acres.

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Rina Torchinsky