Southern California Edison has released a statement admitting its equipment was involved in starting the 2017 Liberty Fire that burned about 300 acres in the Murietta area.
The SCE release comes after another press release issued by the Riverside County Fire Department and the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CAL FIRE) indicating the utility’s equipment at fault for the blaze which destroyed one structure and an outbuilding.
The SCE statement reads as follows:
“While it may not always be possible to reach conclusions about origin and cause, in this case we do know that the Liberty Fire began during a period of strong Santa Ana wind conditions with red flag warnings in effect in an area severely impacted by years of historic drought. Based on our ongoing internal review, ignition appears to have occurred when an electrical event occurred at a pole. The area on the pole under review appeared to contain bird nesting material not visible from the ground. The cause of the electrical event, including whether and to what extent the bird nesting material may have been a factor, remains under review by SCE.
“Without the benefit of CAL FIRE’s actual report, it is impossible for SCE to comment further.”
SCE’s statement goes on to say that more policies need to be developed in reaction to the ever-growing wildlife threat in California. Massive blazes in the northern part of the state earlier this year burned thousands of acres, hundreds of structures and killed numerous people.
“While the state legislature has taken an important initial step to mitigate wildfire risks through the passage of SB 901 (Dodd, D-Napa), much more work is needed to address the critical issues of prevention, response and liability through the new Commission on Catastrophic Wildfire Cost and Recovery established under SB 901,” the SCE statement reads. “Without continued focus, the wildfire threat will only become more acute as our climate continues to change.”
Earlier this month, officials blamed sagging Pacific Gas & Electric power lines for igniting a 2017 wildfire which killed four people, according to reports. Overall, PG&E’s equipment was blamed for starting 13 wildfires.
PG&E has told shareholder its costs for the liability to run more than $2.5 billion.