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Fair Game

By TOM JOHNSON

Newport Beach Fire Department on the front lines in Laguna Niguel…one crew member injured

TOM MARCHWednesday started like most days have recently here at Stu News. Letters filling our mailbox were discussing the pluses and minuses of Measure B. And, most everything in town was centered around the issue, with public forums at City Hall and another one planned by the Corona del Mar Chamber of Commerce.

The day took a sudden turn, however, in the middle of Wednesday afternoon. Smoke began billowing into the sky south of Newport Beach as reports of a fire were reported in the canyon behind The Ranch in Laguna Beach.

On shore winds would save Laguna Beach as the flames began moving east and swept rapidly toward Laguna Niguel. In a matter of hours, some 20 or so multi-million-dollar homes would be destroyed and lives there changed forever.

And, just because the fire was 14 miles or so south of us, doesn’t mean Newport Beach Fire sat on the sidelines…quite the opposite. 

And, as it developed, I found that gameplan to step into action quite fascinating.

According to NBFD Chief Jeff Boyles, “Several off-duty firefighters saw the local smoke and drove to our headquarters station in Fashion Island knowing they would be put to work. We then put a mass text out asking for others to come in.

“When fires are local, we initially keep sending the closest resources and the dispatch computer system adjusts and fills (in) behind them. In short: Laguna Beach, Newport Beach and Costa Mesa sent the majority of their units to the fire. Our dispatch immediately (requested) fire engines from Huntington Beach, Fullerton and Anaheim to cover the stations in Newport Beach until we could re-staff with off duty personnel.”

In short, NBFD sent five of their eight fire engines to “assist with the growing wildland fire and to protect structures” in Laguna Niguel. Four of the five engines worked all night and, according to Chief Boyles, were still at it through yesterday’s morning hours.

In a bad news, good news scenario, according to the Chief, “One NBFD engine crew was removed from the incident with a firefighter injury. The firefighter was treated at Hoag and released (yesterday) morning and is in good spirits.”

According to the Chief, “It’s important to note that we are not experiencing typical Red Flag Santa Ana wind conditions which bring low humidity and high heat and blow from a different direction. With that said, OCFA crews expect to get the actual fire contained before this weekend’s pending heat wave.”

The cause of the fire remains under investigation.

And if all that wasn’t enough for a day’s work, last night, just after midnight, a vehicle traveling southbound on Coast Highway apparently hit a curb and then crashed into construction vehicles working in the area. 

Three people were found deceased inside the vehicle and three construction workers were injured and taken to local hospitals, where they were treated for non-life-threatening injuries.

Firefighters, again, had to assist with a resulting vehicle fire and with health care assistance.

As you might imagine, it was a difficult day.

I recently reported that new fire engines were being delivered to a couple of our City fire stations…it’s days and weeks like this that should give us all comfort that our city leaders understand the investment into the latest state-of-the-art equipment to protect and assist our community.

Three days after delivery, new Engine 63 was on location in Laguna Niguel. It can be seen here with its new remote control deck gun allowing it to be deployed faster, and also lets the engineer control it remotely from the ground. 

Fair Game Fire Engine 5.13

Click on photo for a larger image

Courtesy of NBFD

Remote control deck gun could be game changer

The older engines required a firefighter to manually adjust it from the roof and was slower to deploy.

• • •

On tap this weekend is the Touch a Truck event Saturday morning in the Balboa Pier parking lot.

Then on Sunday, May 15 is Public Safety Day in the parking lot in front of Newport Beach Police headquarters at Jamboree and Santa Barbara. Fire will also be on hand. It might be a good day to remind our public safety personnel how thankful we are as a community for what they do.

• • •

And, if that’s not enough, Sunday is also the 27th Annual Mary Hardesty Realty Balboa Island Artwalk from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. 

I’m told 90 artists, a bunch of musicians and lots of other activities will be on the South Bayfront Promenade.

It’s free.

• • •

Worth noting, the Exchange Club of Newport Harbor will once again stage their Field of Honor, this year their 13th annual, in Castaways Park, running from Armed Forces Day (May 20) through Memorial Day (May 31). 

This is when the Club places 1776 American flags in the park, many of them with individual recognition honoring men and women who have served our country.

If you or someone you know would like to recognize someone, it’s easy to do, with all proceeds donated to families of our servicemen and women, other Americanism projects and youth charities in the community.

• • •

I recently wrote about the 40th Annual Gentlemen’s Haberdashery fundraiser that took place at the Balboa Bay Resort. Local resident Tony Moiso is Honorary Co-Chair of the event and Chairman & CEO of Rancho Mission Viejo.

The goal was to raise money for The Heart of Jesus Retreat Center, which is operated by the Sisters of the Society Devoted to the Sacred Heart. They “provide religious and integrity formation and avenues of faith development for children, youth, adults and families, all within the confines of a safe, secure and caring Center situated in the heart of Santa Ana.”

Well, this just in. This year’s event raised, are you ready, a record-breaking amount of more than $500,000.

“It was inspiring to see such a generous and philanthropic group of leaders and members of our community come together with a common goal to give thousands of children in Orange County and Southern California the gift of laughter, prayer and learning at the Heart of Jesus Retreat Center,” said Moiso.

The Gentlemen’s Haberdashery is a fun event where some of Orange County’s most prominent male executives and community leaders model a full range of menswear.

It returns to the Balboa Bay Resort on April 27, 2023. Mark it down!

• • •

Granted, it wasn’t the Big Game between USC and UCLA, but I recently came across a competition between students from the George L. Argyros School of Business & Economics at Chapman University and a team from the University of California, Irvine. The goal of the competition was to develop a winning land use proposal for a site in Anaheim.

The competition was brought to my attention because one of the students on the Chapman team was Newport Beach resident Isabella Zelinger.

The head-to-head real estate competition, conducted by NAIOP, the Commercial Real Estate Development Association, gave the students four weeks to prepare proposals determining the highest and best use of multiple parcels totaling a 6.9-acre site in North Downtown Anaheim

The proposals were then presented to property owner Bill Taormina, a panel of commercial real estate industry and public sector judges and an audience of industry guests at Chapman University. 

Chapman won the big game by introducing Pearson Village, which honored the history of the site and embraced the heritage and local businesses in the area.

In recognition of the new rivalry, Chapman and UCI competed for the Orange Cup rather than the USC/UCLA Silver Shovel.

Winner Zelinger said the Chapman team was thrilled about their victory and proud that they could bring home the Orange Cup for their school. 

“This was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and we are so excited to have had the experience and mentorship that this competition afforded,” Zelinger said. “Of course, winning felt pretty good, too!”

• • •

My friend and fellow Stu News columnist Len Bose is a sailor. He’s pretty good at it.

Recently, Len told me he was branching out, including doing a harbor update on Poorman’s Morning Rush on local radio station KOCI. He’s trying to get the word out. Listen in, you can catch him at www.kociradio.com.