Los Angeles County Sues Utility Over Wildfire Damage

Suit seeks to recover over $100M in damages in Woolsey Fire

 

In this Nov. 9, 2018, file photo, a firefighter keeps watch as the charred remains of a burned out home are seen during the Woolsey Fire in Malibu, Calif. Los Angeles County has sued Southern California Edison and parent company Edison International to recover more than $100 million in costs and damages from a wind-driven wildfire that may have been sparked by one of the utility’s wires. County Supervisor Sheila Kuehl announced the lawsuit Thursday, April 25, 2019. It’s the latest suit against SoCal Edison since the Woolsey Fire, which ignited Nov. 8 and charred more than 150 square miles, destroying 1,643 buildings and damaging another 360 structures. (AP Photo/Ringo H.W. Chiu, File)

 

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LOS ANGELES (AP) — Los Angeles County sued Southern California Edison and parent company Edison International on Thursday to recover more than $100 million in costs and damages from a wind-driven wildfire that may have been sparked by one of the utility’s wires.

“This legal action is an important and essential step toward accountability and recovery,” county Supervisor Sheila Kuehl said.

It’s the latest lawsuit against SoCal Edison since a fire that started Nov. 8 charred more than 150 square miles (390 square kilometers), destroyed 1,643 buildings, damaged another 360 structures and killed three people. Numerous homes remain at risk of mudslides.

The official cause of the fire remains under investigation but the utility told the state Public Utilities Commission in December that an electrical outage before the fire may have been caused by a guy wire and a jumper wire making contact. Guy wires are used to provide pole support and jumpers connect two energized lines.

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The fire raced from Ventura County through the western side of Los Angeles County until it was stopped by the ocean on the coast of Malibu. That municipality has said it plans its own lawsuit.

The county said its costs and losses include fire suppression, emergency response and recovery efforts, damage to infrastructure and natural resources, loss of tax revenue, among other things. Thousands of county employees were involved in the response.

In this Nov. 9, 2018, file photo, Park Billow, 27, sprays water on the hot spots in his backyard as the Woolsey Fire burns in Malibu, Calif. Los Angeles County has sued Southern California Edison and parent company Edison International to recover more than $100 million in costs and damages from a wind-driven wildfire that may have been sparked by one of the utility’s wires. County Supervisor Sheila Kuehl announced the lawsuit Thursday, April 25, 2019. It’s the latest suit against SoCal Edison since the Woolsey Fire, which ignited Nov. 8 and charred more than 150 square miles, destroying 1,643 buildings and damaging another 360 structures. (AP Photo/Ringo H.W. Chiu, File)

California has experienced its deadliest and largest wildfires in the past two years and utilities have faced increasing scrutiny for their equipment’s role in sparking blazes, typically during high winds. While the fire raged in Southern California, another fire in the northern part of the state destroyed the town of Paradise in the Sierra Nevada foothills, killing more than 80 people.

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Los Angeles County is joined in its lawsuit by flood control and fire protection districts.

Earlier this month, the brothers of a 73-year-old man who died in the wildfire sued SoCal Edison for wrongful death and negligence. A similar lawsuit against the utility was filed in February by 100 property owners and renters.

All contents © copyright 2019 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

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Suit seeks to recover over $100M in damages in Woolsey Fire     LOS ANGELES (AP) — Los Angeles County sued Southern California Edison and parent company Edison International on Thursday to recover more than $100 million in costs and damages from a wind-driven wildfire that may have been sparked by one of the utility’s […]

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