A massive fire blazed across approximately 200 acres in an affluent coastal neighborhood near Laguna Beach Wednesday, destroying over 20 high-priced homes and causing thousands to evacuate the area as a result.

The fire started at about 2:44 p.m. PDT in some brush in the Aliso and Woods Canyon Wilderness Park, which is located between the cities of Laguna Niguel and Laguna Beach. In a press conference on Thursday, the Orange County Fire Department announced a local state of emergency for the county has been put into place.

A majority of the homes destroyed were upscale properties from Laguna Niguel, where Zillow estimates typical home values to be around $1.3 million.

“What we experienced was a fire, wind-driven, down a relatively level flat terrain, until it hit the side of that slope,” O.C. Fire Authority Chief Brian Fennessy said.

The fire was able to easily spread due to the intense winds during the day.

“And fire is always going to run uphill faster, wind or no wind. But when you have that strong a wind blowing that fire uphill. And if you’re familiar with that area, it is extremely steep, extremely thick vegetation that has not burned in probably decades. Once it’s got ahold and started up that hill, I think we all saw that, as soon as I got to my car at headquarters, I could see that tremendous smoke column, and we knew that we had a significant fire,” he added.

Mandatory evacuations were in place in the Coronado Pointe and Pacific Island Drive areas while multiple other neighborhoods were also under voluntary evacuations. There were about 900 homes under mandatory and voluntary evacuations in total.

The fire is currently under investigation by fire investigators. As of Thursday afternoon evacuations are still in place. Fire personnel is deciding when it will be safe to repopulate the area, according to the press conference.