Laguna Beach Independent columnist and Liberate Laguna PAC major donor Michael Ray once again has trouble with the truth. After the 1993 wildfire there was a contentious blame game, but the conclusion was that water pressure, and lack of aerial firefighting capability were the main culprits. Yet now Ray blames former Councilmember Ann Christoph and Village Laguna. Michael Ray wrote “our fire department ran out of fire water”. As proof he quotes a couple of1999 letters-to-the-editor from Laguna residents.
However, on Nov. 14, 1993 the Los Angeles Times reported in “Water Pressure Burned Laguna” “Distribution problems – and not low supply – hindered fight, records show. Millions of gallons went unused.” “The main culprits: dwindling water pressure, inadequate pipeline connections and insufficient pumping capacity.” The Times noted that at 7:30 p.m., the Alta Laguna reservoir had a water level of 137,000 gallons.
And the article goes on to say, “Chip Prather, assistant director of fire services for the Orange County Fire Department, confirmed that the problem was never a shortage of water, but rather the lack of water pressure, and a system that was not designed with a fire of this magnitude in mind. ‘The system there is designed for a house fire-one or two maybe,’ Prather said. ‘I never heard that anyone ran out of water,’ he said. ‘I heard that there were places where they couldn’t get water . . .[because] they had no pressure. What we got there was a water pressure problem.”
Orange County Register reported on Dec. 3, 1993 “Air snafu hampered firefight” “Confusion and red tape held up air tanker support at the Laguna Beach blaze, records show.” “By the time the first air tankers rumbled over Laguna at 1:40 p.m., the fire was almost 2 hours old.”
In the Coastline Pilot November 1993 “They Do Not Claim That Extra Water Would Have Saved Houses” in which Laguna Beach County Water District Engineer Jim Nestor was quoted as saying “It’s unclear as to how the three million gallons [of proposed additional storage] would have helped us.” The article noted “Some of the low pressure that firefighters experienced in Mystic Hills was a function of demand elsewhere in the system as residents turned on thousands of hoses to wet down their roofs and yards.”
Michael Ray is a regular columnist for the Indy and the editor has a responsibility to ensure what is printed is factual and true. Please do your due diligence.
Gene Felder, Laguna BeachView Our User Comment Policy