A deadly fire that tore across the north edge of Los Angeles may have been started by Southern California Edison equipment. The fire began on Oct. 10, 2019, and started at the base of one of SoCal Edison’s high-voltage transmission towers at Saddle Ridge Road.
At Least Two People Dead in Saddleridge Fire
Approximately 100,000 people were evacuated to escape the California fire, which destroyed around 8,400 acres and dozens of structures. One man suffered a heart attack and died while fighting flames that threatened his property, while three firefighters suffered injuries.
Meanwhile, an employee with Los Angeles’ Department of Recreation and Parks collapsed while patrolling parks that were affected by the fire. He died of a heart attack the next morning.
At times, the fire burned around 800 acres an hour, driven at least in part by dry Santa Ana winds and lush vegetation.
Officials lifted the evacuation orders on Oct. 12, after the fire threat had mainly passed the residential areas. Sections of Angeles National Forest were closed due to the fire.
SoCal Edison Filed Incident Report
On Oct. 11, the day after the fire began, SoCal Edison filed an electric safety incident report with the California Public Utility Commission. That report noted that the utility’s system was impacted near the time the fire reportedly started.
Although SoCal Edison does not state that its equipment started the fire, it does acknowledge that the blaze started to near its transmission tower.
Witnesses reported seeing sparks or flames from power lines near the suspected fire ignition point, while others said they saw fire near power lines around Saddle Ridge Road.
Furthermore, SoCal Edison turned off power to around 20,000 customers across California as a precaution but customers in the Saddleridge Fire area retained their power. As a result, the power lines in the area were energized at the start of the fire.
Other Deadly Fires Also Burning in Southern California
In addition to the Saddleridge Fire, California residents are contending with the Sandalwood Fire in Calimesa, which killed two people. That fire burned almost 1,000 acres and 90 structures.
Near the Saddleridge Fire is the Reche Fire in Moreno Valley. That fire has burned almost 500 acres.
Numerous Tragic Fires Started by Utilities in Recent Years
If California’s Saddleridge Fire was started by SoCal Edison’s equipment, it would not be the first fire in recent years to be linked to a utility. The deadly Camp Fire in 2018 devastated the town of Paradise, killing 85 people and burning thousands of acres. That fire and others from 2017 and 2018 were linked to Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E).
Utilities have a responsibility to properly maintain their equipment and keep their lines clear of vegetation. They are also required to shut off power to vulnerable areas in extreme conditions, such as high winds and dry temperatures.
When they fail to do so and fires start, utilities can be held liable for the damage done.
SoCal Edison already faces lawsuits alleging it was responsible for 2018’s destructive Woolsey Fire, which killed three people, burned 1,600 structured and destroyed more than 96,000 acres.
Although the official cause of the fire, which started on Nov. 8, has not been released, SoCal Edison reportedly experienced an equipment malfunction near the fire’s origin.
A report from SoCal Edison linked to the malfunction noted an outage on its electric system. A piece of the utility’s equipment was found near an “energized” electrical wire, indicating the equipment made contact with an energized power line, possibly triggering the fire.
Los Angeles County joined a list of parties suing the utility for its perceived role in the fire. Hundreds of lawsuits have already been filed by homeowners who were affected by the fire.
SoCal Edison was also named as the cause of 2017’s Thomas Fire. Officials blamed that blaze on energized power lines that came into contact with each other during high winds. That contact sent “molten aluminum particles” onto the nearby vegetation, which was extremely dry.
The Thomas Fire killed two people and covered 281,900 acres near Steckel Park. SoCal Edison faces dozens of lawsuits linked to the Thomas Fire.
California Wildfire Attorneys
The time following a wildfire is incredibly stressful. Dealing with the trauma of evacuation and determining whether to rebuild your home is emotional.
Unfortunately, at these times insurance companies are not necessarily looking out for your best interests. They have a long list of tactics to avoid paying out the full amount of your claim or to deny your claim entirely or delay making payment.
At Cutter Law, we have a long history of holding insurance companies to their policies, including fighting to ensure victims are properly compensated for losses.
We are highly familiar with insurance company tactics and can help homeowners and policyholders build the strongest claim possible for losses due to California wildfires.
We are also experienced in managing wildfire claims and in holding utilities liable for the devastation they cause by failing to properly maintain their equipment.
Our compassionate attorneys are available to answer any California wildfire questions you may have—whether those are about insurance procedures or possible lawsuits. We will advise you of your rights and make sure you understand your options.
Let Cutter Law Help You
The aftermath of a California fire can last a lifetime. Let us help you ensure you receive the compensation you’re entitled to following a fire, by helping you with your claim and filing any lawsuits you may be eligible for against the parties responsible.
If you or a loved one has been impacted by the Saddleridge fire or any California wildfire, contact us today to discuss a California wildfire lawsuit.
Insurance companies and utilities may work quickly to limit your ability to file a claim—don’t let them prevent you from recovering any compensation you’re entitled to.