Southern California Edison Agrees to Pay $80 Million Settlement for 2017 Thomas Fire

Southern California Edison Agrees to Pay $80 Million Settlement for 2017 Thomas Fire

A motorist on Highway 101 watches flames from the Thomas Fire leap above the roadway north of Ventura, Calif., on Dec. 6, 2017. (Noah Berger/AP Photo)

Jill McLaughlin

Jill McLaughlin

2/27/2024

Updated: 2/27/2024

Southern California Edison has agreed to pay the United States $80 million to settle U.S. Forest Service costs and damages associated with the 2017 Thomas Fire in the Los Padres National Forest, the U.S. Department of Justice announced Feb. 26.
The settlement, finalized Feb. 23, is the largest wildfire cost recovery settlement negotiated by the United States in the central district of California.
“This record settlement provides significant compensation to taxpayers for the extensive costs of fighting the Thomas Fire and for the widespread damage to public lands,” said First Assistant U.S. Attorney Joseph McNally.
Southern California Edison agreed to pay the settlement within 60 days without admitting wrongdoing or fault.
The utility delivers power to about 15 million people across central, coastal, and Southern California, excluding the City of Los Angeles and others.
A company spokesman told The Epoch Times the settlement was fair.
“The settlement with the Department of Justice resolving the Thomas Fire litigation is a reasonable resolution,” spokesman Jeff Monford said. “We continue to protect our communities from the risk of wildfire with grid hardening, situational awareness, and enhanced operational practices.”
The Thomas Fire started Dec. 4, 2017, and burned nearly 282,000 acres, destroyed 1,063 structures, and killed one resident and one firefighter.
It burned for nearly 40 days and threatened the cities of Santa Paula, Ventura, Ojai, and Fillmore, along with many other unincorporated communities, before moving into Santa Barbara County.
After an investigation, the Ventura County Fire Department determined the fire was started by power lines that came into contact with each other during high winds creating an electrical arc, which sent hot, burning, and molten material onto the ground, igniting the massive wildfire.
The fire started in two locations, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office. The first fire ignited in Anlauf Canyon, north of Santa Paula, and then a second ignition started at the top of Koenigstein Road in Upper Ojai. The two fires ultimately joined to become the Thomas Fire.
The power lines suspected of starting both initial fires were owned by Southern California Edison, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
Copy
facebooktwitterlinkedintelegram
Jill McLaughlin

Jill McLaughlin

Author

Jill McLaughlin is an award-winning journalist covering politics, environment, and statewide issues. She has been a reporter and editor for newspapers in Oregon, Nevada, and New Mexico. Jill was born in Yosemite National Park and enjoys the majestic outdoors, traveling, golfing, and hiking.

Author's Selected Articles
California Insider
Sign up here for our email newsletter!
©2024 California Insider All Rights Reserved. California Insider is a part of Epoch Media Group.