Power lines caused the 30,000-acre Powerhouse fire, U.S. officials say

Powerhouse Fire destroys buildings
Joe Biviano, 63, returned for the first time to find his home burned to the ground by the Powerhouse fire on Sylvan Drive in Lake Hughes on June 3, 2013. “We lived here for 15 years, but lost 40 years of memories,” said Biviano.
(Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times )

A wildfire that scorched more than 30,000 acres in Santa Clarita last year was caused by electrical power lines, federal officials said Monday.

Although the U.S Forest Service said in a statement that power lines caused the Powerhouse fire, officials did not specify how the wires sparked and did not immediately respond to a request for clarification.

“All other causes were excluded. All fire causes were considered, investigated and evaluated during the Powerhouse fire investigation,” the statement read.

The fire started May 30, 2013, near the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power’s historic Powerhouse 1 northwest of Castaic Lake and lasted for 10 days, destroying at least 16 buildings.


A lawsuit filed this year by businesses and homeowners who suffered damage alleges the utility started the blaze because it failed to properly maintain, inspect and design its power lines.

The utility said in a statement that it was conducting its own investigation into the cause of the fire.

“LADWP does not believe that equipment age was a factor in the cause of the fire,” the agency said.

The agency declined  further comment because it has not reviewed the U.S. Forest Service’s final investigative report, but has requested a copy.


At the time of the fire, the U.S. Forest Service estimated the cost to fight the fire at more than $16 million. The Federal Emergency Management Agency also pledged to cover up to 75% of the costs to battle the blaze.

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