Energy & Environment

California company will not be charged for 2018 wildfire

A home is consumed by flames
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The California Department of Justice announced Friday it will not be charging Southern California Edison for the 2018 Woolsey Fire.

Although the investigation by the department determined the fire was caused by Southern California Edison’s electrical equipment, it could not find evidence “the company was aware that its actions presented a substantial and unjustifiable risk of causing a fire, that it ignored this risk, and that doing so was a gross deviation from what a reasonable utility would have done in the same situation.”

The fire ended up killing three people, evacuating more than 295,000 individuals and destroying more than 1,600 structures.

The investigation found the cause of the fire was from high winds that resulted in a loose guy wire in the company’s equipment.

“Specifically, the evidence revealed that high winds caused a loose guy wire near Southern California Edison’s equipment to contact energized conductors on a lightweight steel pool, which resulted in electrical arcing that caused the first ignition. (A guy wire is a non-energized, tensioned cable used to stabilize utility poles and electrical equipment.)” the statement reads.

After the first ignition occurred, “poor vegetation control” added to a second ignition.

The investigation into the fire was conducted by the California Attorney General’s Office, the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection and the Ventura County Fire Department.

“Acknowledging the tragic loss of life and offering condolences to the families, the California Attorney General’s Office has therefore closed the investigation into this matter,” the statement concludes.

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