Twenty years ago, Laguna Beach homeowner Lona Ingwerson lived in a Mystic Hills home visible above Main Beach dubbed “the castle.”
When the October 1993 firestorm swept in from Laguna Canyon, one arm of the fire climbed straight up the hills that hem in downtown and toward the castle, which, from below appeared to be engulfed in a wall of flames.
In a recent interview, Ingwerson said the fire department at the time could not protect the Mystic Hills neighborhood, where 199 homes were ultimately destroyed, due to inadequate water pressure in the area.
Ingwerson and her husband Don along with their neighbors were evacuated by police.
They were told the fire was traveling at a speed of 100 acres an hour, taking a house in its course approximately every 15 seconds.
“We assumed our home had burned,” Ingwerson said. “The fire did indeed touch our house on three sides and then stopped. When the flames died down the house stood, untouched.”
Ingwerson said their home was not fireproof, but constructed of wood and stucco with asphalt shingles.
“The unusual part of the story unwound when we were able to return to the property the next day,” she said. “Although utility services in the area had been destroyed, the phone was still operable and it rang constantly with calls from all over the world, Germany, London, calls of prayerful support from our fellow church members who said they heard of the fire on
CNN and had prayed for us during the night.”
The Ingwersons are convinced those prayers saved their home.
A newspaper reporter called the next day and asked, “How did that house get saved in the middle of the fire, with no intervention from the fire department? What stopped the fire?” Mrs. Ingwerson remembered.
“Prayer,” answered Don Ingwerson.
“I don’t believe in prayer,” the reporter told him. “Could it have been some miraculous wind change?”
“Who do you think controls the wind?” he asked.
“That’s where we started,” the reporter retorted.
“I never left where we started, ” he said.
Ingwerson said that’s when the reporter decided to call the fire chief and find out what really happened and he told her that frankly, he “could not discount divine intervention.”
The reporter printed it.
“A friend who saw our home after the fire, suggested we cut off a piece of the eaves to prove the fire actually touched the house and stopped,” said Mrs. Ingwerson, a national speaker within the Christian Science Church, who still carries that small piece of burnt wood with her as part of her talks to demonstrate divine intervention.
Loreen Berlin may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org