Investigators Find Faulty Edison Equipment Caused Woolsey Fire In 2018
A redacted copy of the Woolsey Fire investigation report states that Southern California Edison started the 2018 wildfire.
“The Investigation Team (IT) determined electrical equipment associated with the Big Rock 16kV circuit, owned and operated by Southern California Edison (SCE), was the cause of the Woolsey fire,” the report says.
A criminal investigation by the California Attorney General’s office has delayed the release of the full investigation report, but Judge William Highberger ruled on October 13 that the redacted report was no longer confidential because the criminal probe didn’t outweigh the public’s right to know the truth anymore. An attorney said the report includes 11,000 files and documents, including surveys, photographs, video and witness interviews.
The report states investigators collected guy wire, melted plastic, metal shavings and more.
Edison, without admitting liability or wrongdoing, has settled with public agencies which have sued them, agreeing to a $210 million payout.
The Woolsey Fire started under red flag conditions, with Santa Ana winds. Edison reported an outage on its Big Rock circuit at around the time of the fire, and witnesses in the area said they heard a loud buzzing noise or experienced a power outage before seeing fire and smoke, the report stated.
The report states the winds caused a guy wire on a steel pole to arc and connect with an energized conductor, leading to “heated material” falling onto vegetation below.
The report states a second fire was reported around a quarter mile away underneath a “communication line” which was also hooked up to that steel pole and became energized by the event.
Edison admitted in October 2019 that its equipment was probably the cause of the Woolsey Fire.
The Woolsey Fire burned 96,949 acres of land, destroying 1,643 structures, killing three people and forcing over 295,000 evacuations.
The report comes as Southern California Edison recently wrote that its equipment may have been involved in starting the Silverado Fire, stating there was “no indication of any circuit activity before the report time of the fire, nor downed overhead primary conductors in the origin area. However, it appears that a lashing wire that was attached to an underbuilt telecommunication line may have contacted SCE’s overhead primary conductor, which may have resulted in the ignition of the fire.”
An Edison spokesman said wind speeds in the area the Silverado Fire started in didn’t reach the threshold for cutting power at the time the fire started, but they did later on and some circuits were cut.