Southern California Edison says it reenergized power line before start of Maria fire

Flames and smoke from the Maria fire fill the air next to an agricultural field in the town of Saticoy on Friday.
(Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times)

Southern California Edison said Friday that it reenergized a 16,000-volt power line minutes before a nearby hilltop exploded into the Maria fire, which is threatening thousands of homes in Ventura County.

Edison and other utilities cut off power this week to hundreds of thousands of Californians to prevent windstorms from knocking down or fouling lines, and sparking devastating fires. As the winds eased in most locations, Edison began restoring power. Edison was reenergizing a circuit 13 minutes before the fire erupted on South Mountain, the utility told state regulators.

Erratic winds continued to bedevil firefighting efforts Friday at the Maria fire, which has burned some 13 square miles, threatened about 1,800 homes and other buildings, and prompted evacuation orders for nearly 11,000 people. Eastern Ventura, Camarillo, Somis and Santa Paula were at risk, Ventura County fire officials said.

Edison said it had no information about the cause of the fire but will cooperate with investigators.