California Utility to Pay $80M Settlement Over 2017 Wildfire Sparked by Its Equipment

CALIFORNIA, USA - DECEMBER 6: Helicopters transport water as smoke billows from the Thomas Fire on the mountains near Santa Paula, California, United States on December 6, 2017.

Federal prosecutors said on Monday that Southern California Edison has agreed to pay the US.

Forest Service $80 million to resolve accusations relating to a catastrophic wildfire that burned over a thousand houses and other structures in 2017.

The utility company accepted the settlement on Friday without acknowledging any wrongdoing or fault related to the Thomas fire, as stated by the US Attorney’s Office.

Investigations revealed that utility equipment was the cause of the fire in two canyon locations on Dec. 4, 2017.

The Thomas fire scorched 439 square miles (1,137 square kilometers) in Ventura and Santa Barbara counties, ranking as the seventh largest fire in California history, as reported by state fire officials.

Edison mentioned that a statement regarding the settlement would be released later on Monday.

In 2020, federal prosecutors filed a lawsuit against the utility to recoup expenses from battling the fire and repairing the significant destruction on public lands in the Los Padres National Forest.

The lawsuit claimed that Edison power lines and a transformer sparked dry brush during strong winds.

The agreement offers substantial compensation to taxpayers, as stated in a statement by Assistant US Attorney Joseph T. McNally.

Resolving Wildfire Claims in California


CALIFORNIA, USA – DECEMBER 5: A home lies in ruins after being burned by the Thomas Fire on December 5, 2017 in Ventura, California, United States.


This is the most recent settlement reached by Edison regarding the Thomas fire. The utility has resolved claims connected to the significant Woolsey fire in 2018.

In 2021, Edison estimated that the total expected losses for both fires would surpass $4.5 billion.

California has experienced a rise in devastating wildfires in recent years, exacerbated by climate change and drought conditions.

Utility equipment has been identified as the cause of some of the state’s most devastating fires.

In 2022, former executives and directors of Pacific Gas & Electric reached an agreement to pay $117 million to resolve a lawsuit regarding the destructive Northern California wildfires caused by the utility’s equipment in 2017 and 2018.

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