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Calif. Utility Equipment Investigated for Connection to Fires

December 13, 2017

Photo of smoke from the Thomas Fire in Ventura County, Calif., via California National Guard/Flickr
Photo of smoke from the Thomas Fire in Ventura County, Calif., via California National Guard/Flickr

Southern California Edison (SCE) equipment is under investigation for its connection to recent fires in the state. Six fires began earlier this month as seasonal Santa Ana winds picked up, affecting nearly 264,000 acres across five counties in the region. Although investigations into the fires may last for months, power lines downed by high winds have caused similar brush fires in the past, reports the Los Angeles Times.

Southern California Edison isn’t the only utility under investigation. Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E)was investigated earlier this year to determine whether power lines owned by the utility caused the wildfires in Northern California, reports the San Francisco Chronicle. PG&E was asked to preserve any equipment damaged by the flames, including power poles, to determine whether equipment was properly maintained.

It is unknown whether SCE was asked to do the same, but a representative from the Public Utilities Commission told the LA Times that all utilities are required to save some evidence under existing regulations.

According to a press release from the utility, restoration of SCE equipment damaged by one fire is complete, with restoration for two more fires to be completed soon. More than 600 SCE workers have been deployed in the wildfires to repair equipment, set poles, install electrical equipment, and string wire. As of December 11, crews replaced 300 of the more than 500 destroyed power poles.

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