Report: Power lines sparked massive Southern California fire
LOS ANGELES – One of the largest fires in California history was sparked by Southern California Edison power lines that came into contact during high winds, investigators said Wednesday.
Investigators said the Thomas fire first began as two separate blazes started about 15 minutes apart that joined together.
SCE acknowledged its equipment likely sparked one of the two fires but said evidence suggested it wasn't responsible for the other. "The report does not suggest this evidence was considered," Edison said in a statement Wednesday.
The fire destroyed more than 1,000 structures before it was contained 40 days after it began near the city of Santa Paula.
The investigation was conducted by fire officials in both counties along with the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.
Victims said in lawsuits that losses from the blaze and flooding were due to negligence by SCE, which has said it will work with insurance companies to handle the claims.
The utility is protected from going bankrupt over the disasters, thanks to a law signed last year that passes excess liability costs on to utility customers.
A blaze in November killed 85 people and destroyed most of the town of Paradise.
___ Follow Weber at https://twitter.com/WeberCM ___ This story has been corrected to state that 85, not 86, people were killed in the Northern California wildfire.
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