Bella Collina general manager Jay Pesicka got a text message from staff at 12:42 p.m. Wednesday, July 24, that smoke had been seen billowing off of Course 1 at the San Clemente golf club, located at 200 Avenida La Pata.
“It was your standard brush fire,” Pesicka said.
The golf course– Bella Collina San Clemente –had been closed for maintenance, so no one was on the grounds except for staff members, according to Pesicka. A call was made to the local fire department.
Orange County Fire Authority responded within minutes bringing several engines and two helicopters to put out the blaze that burned about five acres of hillside brush near power lines at the northeast perimeter of the golf course.
“The entire crew came out, helicopters, bulldozers—I mean they were amazing. They got out here, they got it under control before it spread anywhere and thank God,” said Pesicka. “Thanks to OC Fire.”
As of Thursday afternoon, the cause of the fire remained under investigation, said John Muir, OCFA’s spokesperson.
No injuries or evacuations were reported. The only damage to the course were some tire tracks left by emergency vehicles and a couple of broken sprinkler heads, but nothing of major consequence, said Pesicka.
“It could have been a lot worse,” the golf course superintendent said.
Fire Investigator and OCFA Capt. Tom Moon told the golf official that fire crews would likely stay on the green until dark on Wednesday to ensure the fire was completely out.
While fire investigators had the fire contained early on, crews worked for hours into the afternoon using hoses and a Caterpillar D2 tractor to stomp out hot spots and still smoldering earth.
If the fire had jumped the vacant area and Prima Deshecha Street, several commercials building could have been immediately impacted including two packaging businesses, a veterinary hospital and a clothing store.
Pesicka expected maintenance crews at the golf course to begin cleanup efforts the day following the fire.
Here’s a gallery of images taken as the fire is just getting started and as crews work to put it out. Photos: Cari Hachmann
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