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HomecaliforniaOrange County files lawsuits against Southern California Edison over wildfires

Orange County files lawsuits against Southern California Edison over wildfires

A Southern California county has filed lawsuits alleging a major power company’s negligence caused two wildfires that collectively burned thousands of acres and prompted the evacuation of tens of thousands of people.

Orange County, which is home to more than 3 million people between Los Angeles and San Diego, filed a pair of lawsuits against Southern California Edison in which it alleges the company’s equipment played a role in wildfires in 2020 and 2022.

The county said in the lawsuit that it believes that the Coastal Fire — which burned 200 acres, destroyed 20 homes and prompted more than 900 people to evacuate in May 2022 — was caused by an electrical failure on a utility pole that supported a distribution line. The county alleged the incident occurred because Southern California Edison, known as SCE, failed to maintain its facilities in a safe manner in an area of significant risk of wildfire.

“We demand that the utilities responsible for the destruction of county assets, increased expenses, reduced revenues, and environmental damages, reimburse the County,” Orange County Supervisor Katrina Foley said in a statement.

In a separate lawsuit, the county said the Silverado Fire, which charred more than 12,000 acres in October 2020, may have been sparked when a telecommunications wire had contact with an electric conductor. The county also named T-Mobile in the suit over the Silverado Fire, which prompted the evacuation of tens of thousands of people and caused school closures.

In Northern California, Pacific Gas & Electric will face a trial for manslaughter over its role in the Zogg Fire in 2020, which killed four people. The company, which is the nation’s largest utility, pleaded not guilty.

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