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Climate Adaptation

How Mansions Can Intensify Wildfires

A blaze that tore through a neighborhood of $4 million houses in Southern California exposes dangers to huge homes in the suburbs from climate-driven fires.

Destroyed homes after the Coastal Fire in Laguna Niguel on May 12.

Destroyed homes after the Coastal Fire in Laguna Niguel on May 12.

Photographer: Jeff Gritchen/MediaNews Group/Orange County Register/Getty Images

A neighborhood of $4 million homes that burned Wednesday in a Southern California wildfire highlights the vulnerability of large suburban dwellings to climate-driven blazes, according to fire experts.

The Coastal Fire destroyed at least 20 homes in a gated community in Laguna Niguel, a wealthy Orange County enclave near Laguna Beach. Houses in the Coronado Pointe development line a ridge overlooking the Pacific Ocean. Homes in the neighborhood are palatial, ranging in size from about 4,000 square feet to 10,000 square feet, and sit on large lots with room for swimming pools with coastal views. But the mansions are wedged together with relatively little space between buildings.