Investigation into cause of Southland wildfires probes Edison utility equipment

California fire officials have notified Southern California Edison that the utility’s equipment is under investigation as a possible cause of some of the fires.

“The investigations now include locations beyond those identified last week as the apparent origin of these fires. SCE believes the investigations now include the possible role of its facilities,” the power company said in a statement.

Earlier, the utility had said that based on the apparent origin of the Thomas and Creek fires, “and the performance of SCE’s system, SCE has no indication that the company’s facilities were a source of these fires.”


As a precaution last week, the utility also shut off power temporarily to parts of Riverside County.

It will likely take months for fire officials to determine the cause of the fires. Power lines downed by high winds have been the cause of major brush fires in the past.

Though the cause of the devastating Tubbs fire in Santa Rosa is still under investigation, numerous residents who lost homes have sued Pacific Gas & Electric, alleging power lines downed by the winds sparked the blaze. PG&E has suggested the fire might have been caused by third-party power lines not owned by the utility.

The state Public Utilities Commission in October ordered PG&E to preserve evidence including failed poles and conductors that were replaced as power was restored. A spokeswoman for the regulatory agency, Terrie Prosper, would not immediately say whether a similar directive was sent to Edison, but said utilities “are already required to preserve evidence under existing rules and regulations.”

As of Tuesday, Edison said it was finishing restoring equipment damaged in the Liberty, Rye and Creek fires — replacing more than 300 poles with 200 more waiting.

Twitter: @paigestjohn


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