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The Real Deal Los Angeles

Malibu winery sues SoCal Edison for sparking deadly Woolsey Fire

It’s the 3rd suit alleging utility sparked the blaze that caused $5B in property losses
February 01, 2019 12:00PM

Southern California Edison CEO Kevin M. Payne and the Woolsey Fire burning near Paramount Ranch in Agoura Hills (Credit: Flickr and Edison International)

A Malibu winery is the latest to accuse Southern California Edison of sparking November’s deadly Woolsey Fire.

Cielo Farms, a winery and event space, along with a pair of homeowners, filed a suit claiming damages caused by the fire on Tuesday in Los Angeles Superior Court, according to the L.A. Daily News. The suit alleges the utility company failed to shut down electrical equipment prior to a forecast of strong Santa Ana winds, which later sparked the fire.

In December, a group of 170 filed a similar suit against SoCal Edison. The Woolsey Fire killed three people and caused an estimated $5 billion in real estate losses when it swept through northwest L.A. County and Ventura County in November, and completely destroyed over 1,600 structures. Another group sued weeks earlier.

SoCal Edison reported 347 equipment-related fires between mid-2014 and the end of 2017, but the state collectively fined it and California’s two other major utility companies just nine times during that period.

The state’s largest utility company, Pacific Gas & Electric, filed for bankruptcy this week as it faces potential liabilities for wildfires of up to $30 billion.

Cielo Farms claims that the Woolsey Fire destroyed 3,000 grapevines, numerous structures, and 1,400 trees on its property.

The other plaintiffs are John David Knight and Dorothy Louise Blowers, who restored the Oboler Complex property, a 100-acre estate designed by celebrated architect Frank Lloyd Wright. It was completely destroyed in the blaze. They had finished restoring it three weeks before the fire. [LA Daily News] — Dennis Lynch