Thousands of Mission Viejo homes rest within very high fire danger areas, according to new maps drafted by state firefighters.
Most of the homes affected sit on the city's eastern border, north of the 241 toll road or near El Toro Road.
To see if your home is in one of the affected areas, click on the photos attached to this story.
The City Council has voted delay a vote that would approve a new "very high fire hazard" designation for those homes. Mayor Frank Ury and Councilman Dave Leckness did not vote because their homes are in or near the designated zones.
The new zones are much larger than those adopted in 1995, the last time such maps were drafted, Orange County Fire Authority Deputy Fire Marshall Brett Petroff said. He said the new maps reflect current science on what causes fires.
One of the main culprits, he said, are flying embers.
"Under the right conditions… fire transmits itself very rapidly causing—most importantly as we’ve seen in the last 20 years—flying embers," Petroff told the Council.
Will Insurance Rates Rise?
Several homeowners spoke against the new law, and many believed their insurance rates would rise if the law is approved.
Joel Sugg, who lives in the Painted Trails neighborhood, said he feared the value of his home would drop if the law passed.
Mayor Pro Tem Rhonda Reardon said she suspects insurers will use the information to raise rates and drop some clients.
Petroff said such fears are unfounded. He said state firefighters asked the state insurance commissioner if the maps will be used to guide insurance underwriting decisions.
"We had a resounding 'no' answer when we asked,' Petroff said. Insurers prefer more accurate maps for their underwriting, he said.
The council voted to send letters to the estimated 3,000 affected residents and further research the subject.
City Attorney Bill Curley described the new maps as a "catch-all," and said further study could find mistakes the state failed to notice.
"When you try to do a catch-all, inevitably there will be some over-reaching, some under-reaching," he said.
Petroff said he trusts the reliability of the state maps. He said of the houses burned in the 2010 Yorba Linda fire, 90 percent sat in very high risk hazard zones, with the other 10 percent in high or moderate risk zones.