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Fire crews make headway in Sunset Beach blaze [Updated]

May 12, 2011 |  9:28 pm

Orange County fire crews were gaining the upper hand Thursday night in their efforts to tame a five-alarm blaze that destroyed a huge seaside home and badly burned two others in Sunset Beach.

The fire  in the 16500 block of Pacific Coast Highway sent thick columns of dark smoke drifting into the air as firefighters used water cannons mounted on towering aerial ladders to pour massive streams of water as the flames completely engulfed one of the multistory structures. Authorities shut down a stretch of PCH.
About 100 firefighters were battling the blaze at its height. The fire broke out around 5 p.m. and quickly spread as winds fanned the flames.

By 9 p.m., fire crews had stopped using the water cannons, and some firefighters were being sent back to their firehouses, said Capt. Greg McKeown of the Orange County Fire Authority.

[Updated at 10:51 p.m.: Mckeown said crews had knocked down a majority of the flames but were still battling a fire in one home.]

Earlier, the smoke was visible for miles as anxious residents who live in the area, which had been blocked off, waited to see if their homes were safe.

Resident Cathey Curtis said a friend called her after seeing her house on television.

Curtis, who is nine months pregnant, wasn't sure if her home was OK but was relieved when she was told that her two dogs were saved. Another woman who owns a home in the area was in tears.

The cause of the fire is under investigation.

PHOTOS: Fire in Sunset Beach

-- Mona Shadia in Sunset Beach and Robert J. Lopez in Los Angeles

Photo: Firefighters in Sunset Beach. Credit: Robert Lachman / Los Angeles Times