Several families have filed suit against Southern California Edison, alleging that the utility failed to properly de-energize its power lines and caused the fatal Fairview fire in Hemet, which destroyed dozens of structures.
According to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, the fire broke out near Fairview Avenue and Bautista Canyon Road on September 5 and burned 28,307 acres and was 98% as of Wednesday, the most recent day for the data. The fire left two dead and thousands displaced after the mandatory evacuation. The cause of the fire is being investigated.
According to the lawsuit, which was filed Wednesday, the California Public Utilities Commission authorized Southern California Edison and other utilities to shut down their power grids to prevent wildfires in high fire-hazard areas. Edison is accused of failing to close the circuit.
The families claimed in the lawsuit that “if SCE had acted responsibly, the Fairview fire could have been prevented.”
Southern California Edison spokesman David Eisenhower confirmed that the utility had submitted a preliminary electrical safety incident report to the Public Utilities Commission, stating that “circuit activity occurred close to the time the fire began.”
According to the lawsuit, Edison identified its Sprague 12kV distribution circuit as “activity” at the time of the fire. Eisenhower said he could not provide more specific information.
“Our thoughts are with those affected by the Fairview fire, especially those who have lost and injured their loved ones,” he said.
Guillermo Figueroa and Maria Velazco, one of the families suing Edison, said the fire destroyed their 14.5-acre property and equestrian facility on Gibel Road. They say the fire also killed three of their horses and seven of their dogs and injured two other dogs.
The lawsuit says the fire destroyed the family’s vehicles and landscaping equipment used in Figueroa’s landscaping business. The family said their property was also damaged by a landslide caused by Tropical Storm K, which brought thunderstorms and rain to Southern California.
Alexander Robertson, an attorney for the families, said, “The area where the fire broke out is designated as the ‘High Fire Threat District – Tier 3’, which means that people and property are vulnerable to wildfires caused by utility.” is at high risk.” “Despite this extreme risk, and during a historic heat wave, low humidity and strong winds, SCE did not de-energize its power lines in the area where the fires started.”
Ignacio Hernandez, Sarah Hernandez and their three children are also suing Edison, saying the Fairview fire destroyed their three-acre parcel on Gibel Road. He said it burned his vehicle, the roof of his house, solar and electrical panels and landscaping and trees. The fire also killed their chickens and injured their dog.
Alexandra Lopez and Rodrigo Arias, who also live on Gibel Road, said the fire damaged their property and injured her ankle while Lopez was evacuated. She was hospitalized due to injuries.
Two people were killed in the fire, identified as 40-year-old Ian Compton and his daughter Mikayla Porter, who died in their car while trying to escape the fire.
Ian’s wife, Tina Compton, found with severe burns outside the car, was taken to a hospital and is expected to survive, according to a friend who did not wish to be named.
Southern California Edison agreed to pay more than half a billion dollars in penalties and fines for its role in the Thomas, Woolsey, Rye, Meyers and Liberty fires last year, which collectively destroyed thousands of homes and Burned down more than 380,000 acres.
The utility was sued in May by a group of Orange County homeowners who claimed that Edison’s faulty equipment caused a coastal fire that destroyed more than 20 homes in Laguna Niguel.