A Closer Look Into Fairview Fire Lawsuit Against Southern California Edison

Carmela Karcher

“None of our clients are looking to make money on this,” Wildfire Lawyer Alex Robertson shared. “They just want to get back to their homes, rebuild, and get on with their lives, but they don’t have the money to do that.”

The deadly Fairview Fire in Hemet caused almost 30,000 acres of destruction, leaving some areas with nothing but ash.

Just weeks after the first spark, three families whose properties were destroyed by the blaze filed a lawsuit pointing directly at Southern California Edison.

“We knew right away that this was likely going to be an Edison caused fire,” Robertson said.

Robertson is the lawyer representing these families.

He’s been working with survivors of wildfires in Oregon and California for the past six years.

To him, this case is like so many others.

“They indicated that they had what they call ‘circuit activity’ on one of their circuits in the area where the fire first started,” Robertson continued. “That’s code for they had an electrical event, typically an arcing event on their power lines, which so frequently is the cause of these wildfires in Southern California.”

Wednesday, SCE sent a letter to the California Public Utilities Commission noting the circuit activity in the area around the time of the fire.

“We do not yet know why the piece of protective equipment and fuse operated as designed and may not know until we can get more information,” SCE Spokeswoman Diane Castro said. “While an SCE power line and a piece of telecommunications equipment appeared to have been damaged, we do not know when those marks happened or if they were related to the circuit activity or the fire itself.”

These cases take time.

“History is our guide,” Robertson said. “It will take one to two years to resolve all of these cases.”

But Robertson is determined to get these families back on their feet.

“Some of our clients describe having fire tornadoes, flames 50 feet tall, on their property with no firefighters in sight. It’s the middle of the night. They thought they were gonna die,” Robertson continued. “You’re never going to forget those memories. They leave scars, but if we can at least get enough money for them to rebuild their homes, move back in with some sense of normalcy, that’s my hope.”

Pacific Gas & Electric in Northern California decided this year to start undergrounding their power lines in high risk fire areas, something Robertson hopes Edison will consider.

As of now, he is representing 60 plaintiffs but thinks more will join in the lawsuit.

They are currently preparing to file additional lawsuits for new clients next week.

 

For Southern California Edison’s full statement, see below: 

“Our thoughts remain with the families and friends of the people who lost their lives and were injured during the Fairview Fire and we have been working with CAL FIRE throughout their review of the fire. It is important to note that the cause of this fire has not yet been determined and we will continue to support CAL FIRE in their review. We continue to make progress on our wildfire mitigation work through grid hardening, situational awareness and enhanced operational practices.

Today (October 3, 2022), we sent a letter to the CPUC, which is required by the Public Utilities Code. It follows the electric safety incident report we filed on Monday, Sept. 5, 2022 about the Fairview Fire where we noted circuit activity in the area around the time of the fire.

While the review is still underway, our information shows that a piece of protective equipment shut off power to a section of the circuit at 3:29 p.m. on Sept. 5, and a fuse operated in the area, as well. We do not yet know why the piece of protective equipment and fuse operated as designed and may not know until we can get more information.

While there were no downed power lines in the area, at the request of CAL FIRE investigators, we removed some overhead electrical equipment from the area as part of their review. Frontier Communications also removed some telecommunications equipment at CAL FIRE’s request. While an SCE power line and a piece of telecommunications equipment appeared to have been damaged, we do not know when those marks happened or if they were related to the circuit activity or the fire itself.

SCE is required to submit a report to the CPUC on certain types of incidents that may involve utilities facilities. The submission of this report is intended to make the CPUC aware of the incident so that it can conduct its own investigation.”

Suscribe Form Desktop

CONTACT US!

Submit your suggestions and questions

Nbc Palm Spring Logo

Download our App

Apple Store Logo

Play Store Logo