The California Coastal Commission, which had advised the city that it needed a permit to continue the grazing program, was notified Tuesday of LaTendresse’s intention to order the goats to the hillsides above the South Laguna parcel formerly called Driftwood Estates, now called Aliso Lots by the owner, Athens Group. He also approved the hiring by Athens Group of hand crews to clear brush from its property.
“It is a fire hazard and a fuel break has to be created,” La Tendresse said.
Top of the World and El Morro elementary schools and Thurston Middle School, all close to the wild land interface with developed areas of Laguna, were shuttered Monday, joined by Laguna Beach High School Tuesday. All four were in session Wednesday.
But LaTendresse advised residents to stay indoors or at least limit outdoor activities if possible to avoid the effects of smoke blanketing Laguna and likely to linger for days.
The fires that started Sunday in Malibu came as no surprise to LaTendresse because of the weather predictions. But for a while it seemed as if Orange County had been spared.
“I was talking on the phone to other Orange County chiefs about putting together a plan in case of a fire in the county and 30 minutes later, the Santiago Fire broke out,” LaTendresse said.
The department was ready. The number of engines in service was increased to five, including three paramedic engines, up from the usual two, and increased the crews from three to four, for a total of 20, almost double the usual complement.