By Steve Puterski
CARLSBAD — A massive 10-acre fire broke out at about 12:40 p.m. on June 25 at the Buena Vista Lagoon.
The fire spread quickly and threatened nearby houses and Maxton Brown Park, although Carlsbad police reported no injuries or fire damage to the residences. The residents were immediately evacuated by police and Carlsbad firefighters, as some had little time to grab any possessions.
CPD Sgt. Shaun Lawton said the cause of the fire is still under investigation. Fire crews from Carlsbad, Oceanside, CalFire, the county’s fire helicopter along with personnel from CPD, OPD and the sheriff’s department responded.
“We got a call and units were here pretty immediately,” Lawton said. “We immediately started evacuations. Fortunately, everyone responded quickly and was able to evacuate. At this point, we’re not sure of the reason of the fire.
“With the wind blowing to the houses, we had our officers going door-to-door and doing PA announcements,” Lawton added. “We were able to clear it out quickly so fire (fighters) could get in there.”
Amid the chaos, one elderly couple, attempted to drive through the evacuation zone on Buena Vista Lagoon Circle off Laguna Drive. A firefighter, who was running a hose to a nearby fire hydrant, yelled at the driver to turn around and not to drive on the hose.
Finally, the drive turned around and parked in a lot for a brief period of time before moving out of the zone.
Lulu and Mike Peelle, who live on Buena Vista Lagoon Circle, said they saw the beginning of the blaze. Mike Peelle said the fire, which started about 100 to 200 feet east of Coast Highway, spread so fast and raced to about 100 feet from their home in about 10 minutes.
High winds blowing east accelerated the threats leaving them no time to gather possessions. Lulu Peelle said she called the fire department and told them to send trucks to the east side by the residences to outflank the blaze.
“We see this thing approaching and we have out our little fire houses,” Lulu Peelle explained. “The winds coming from the west was just galloping toward us. I’m still shaken. I honestly thought we were going to lose our house.”
“By the time we started spraying, it was halfway across the lagoon,” Mike Peelle added. “She called frantically saying we need a (fire) truck here.”
She said their quick response and getting hoses activated quickly likely save their and their neighbors’ homes. Lulu Peelle said due to the dry brush and the state of the lagoon was one reason the fire spread so fast.
“Maybe now they’ll do something about the lagoon,” she added. “That is so dangerous in so many ways.”
The couple said they are thankful for the quick response by first responders and are happy their home was saved.