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‘We’re so sad for our neighborhood,’ resident on Coastal fire-ravaged street says – Daily News


Andreas Frank and partner Kamil Al-Fagih stood in the street Thursday morning, May 12, hugging neighbors.

On one side of Coronado Pointe, homes were charred to the ground, and on the other, Frank and Al-Fagih’s 4,000-square-foot, two-story Mediterranean-style home was untouched.

“It’s devastation on a level I’ve never seen before,” said Frank, 52. “Seeing the beautiful homes of neighbors we’ve been in over the years burned to the ground.”

The Coastal fire devoured, at least partially, 20-plus homes in Laguna Niguel.

Related: Coastal fire holds at 200 acres overnight, containment uncertain after 20-plus homes burned

Frank, who works for the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services in Irvine, was on a conference call Wednesday afternoon, May 12, standing at his sit-stand desk when he looked out from his home overlooking Aliso and Wood Canyons Regional Wilderness Park. He saw a small fire, perhaps 100 feet wide, just to the right of a water-treatment plant.

“It went from a small brush fire to an inferno in minutes,” he recalled.

He called 911 and was told he was the second caller.

“I don’t know how it started,” he said. “It just came out of nowhere.”

Constantly wary about wildfires in the brush, Frank watched as the flames first headed to Laguna Beach. But in minutes the wind shifted and whipped the growing fire back toward his neighborhood — only 300 yards away.

“Once we knew it jumped the break, we knew the winds would be fierce and we had little time,” he said.

He and Al-Fagih frantically grabbed valuables. In their frenzy they overlooked things.

Instead of grabbing his medications, Frank snatched up games planned for his nephew’s upcoming high school graduation party.

“When they say to make your checklist, we needed that,” he said.

They texted neighbors, making sure everyone was getting out.

“A lot of our neighbors weren’t fortunate to be working from home,” Frank said. “We also have a lot of elderly neighbors; we wanted to make sure they were getting out in time. From the time the sheriff came in and the fire department, we were evacuated in five minutes.”

They met up with another neighbor whose home was nearby but not in an area that required mandatory evacuations and stayed there overnight.

On Thursday, they returned.

“They were so beautiful and now they’re rubble,” Frank said as he looked out of the window at a home still smoking just four doors away. “The firefighters have been so unbelievable — all the manpower.

“We’re so grateful for the Orange County Fire Authority and all the other brave firefighters,” he added. “I’m grateful our house was saved and still standing. They say material things are replaceable, but it’s still sad seeing all of the people’s treasures gone. We’re so sad for our neighborhood, and we are heartbroken.”



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