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Power Line Investigated in One SoCal Wildfire*

Two homeowners in the foothills north of Los Angeles where the Creek fire started earlier this month reported seeing an electric transmission line fall into the brush and spark, fueling speculation that a Southern California Edison Co. (SCE) power line may have caused one of the major fires that have destroyed thousands of acres and infrastructure.* However, these earlier reports as to the start of the Creek fire in Southern California were found to be inaccurate as the transmission line equipment in question belongs to the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP), and the city-run utility said that equipment did not spark or go down in the fire.

SCE said state fire officials had informed the Edison International utility that some of its equipment is being investigated for its potential role in the Creek fire.

Five wildfires have roared over four Southern California counties, including the Thomas fire, by far the largest, longest running and most destructive. As of late Thursday, the Thomas fire was threatening seaside parts of Santa Barbara County and was categorized as the fourth worst in state history. Officials said that since the Thomas fire started on Dec. 4, it has consumed more than 242,500 acres. The fire was about 30% contained.

SCE said Thursday afternoon the Thomas fire was threatening some of its transmission lines serving Santa Barbara. No Santa Barbara area customers were without power, but systemwide, SCE estimated about 1,000 customers were without power.

Customers in Santa Barbara County were being asked to "significantly reduce their power usage to ease potential strain on the local system," an SCE spokesperson said. Edison crews had repaired 459 of the 746 poles damaged in the Thomas fire, and all of the damaged poles in three other fires (Creek, Rye and Liberty) have been replaced.

Meanwhile, Southern California Gas Co. reported no impact to its underground infrastructure, which traverses all of the four involved counties.

The Ventura County Fire Department said that "utilities continue to assess and mitigate infrastructure that was damaged from the Thomas fire so residents can be safe when returning to these affected areas."

*Correction: In the original article which was titled “Edison Power Line Suspected in One SoCal Wildfire,” early reports were that the Creek fire began in the foothills north of Los Angeles after two homeowners spotted what was possibly a Southern California Edison Co. electric transmission line fall into the brush and spark. These earlier reports as to the start of the Creek fire in Southern California were found to be inaccurate as the transmission line equipment in question belongs to the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, and the city-run utility said that equipment did not spark or go down in the fire. The investigation is ongoing. NGI regrets the error.

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