Southern California Edison has agreed to pay $360 million to local governments to settle lawsuits over deadly wildfires sparked by its equipment during the last two years, including one blamed for a mudslide that killed more than 20 people, the utility and attorneys announced Wednesday.
The sum will reimburse counties, cities and other public agencies for firefighting costs and repairing damage from two of the region’s worst blazes. The figure will not fully repay taxpayer costs, but it will help pay the bills to rebuild roads, other infrastructure and clean up debris, among other things, said attorney John Fiske, who represents local governments.
SoCal Edison said it admitted no wrongdoing or liability in the settlement.
The Thomas Fire that broke out in dry brush in Ventura County was sparked when the utility’s power lines slapped together in high winds on Dec. 4, 2017, investigators said. Two people were killed and 440 square miles (1,139 square kilometers) were burned.
The Woolsey Fire started with the company’s equipment a year ago just outside Los Angeles and quickly spread to the coast, jumping a highway and crossing the Santa Monica Mountains into Malibu, according to the company’s recent quarterly earnings report. It destroyed more than 1,600 homes and killed three people.
The payout will be split among the counties of Santa Barbara, Ventura and Los Angeles and includes the cities of Santa Barbara, Malibu, Calabasas, Thousand Oaks and Westlake Village.
Today on AirTalk, we discuss the significance of the agreement.
With files from the Associated Press