Santa Clarita Valley residents who blame LADWP equipment for the Powerhouse Fire that destroyed their homes and businesses are due to appear in court for a lawsuit more than three years after the blaze.
San Diego-based Singleton Law Firm, APC announced the trial date, on Nov. 1, 2016, for more than 200 people, businesses and insurance companies who are suing the LADWP for damages caused by the Powerhouse Fire, according to a news release. The motion for summary adjudication is planned to be heard July 22, 2015.
The Powerhouse Fire started May 30, 2013, near Green Valley, and burned more than 30,000 acres, destroyed 58 homes and structures and caused minor injuries to 10 people before it was contained June 10, 2013, according to the U.S. Departments of Agriculture and Forest Service investigation report.
“We are deeply concerned for those residents who lost homes and property and understand that they want closure,” said LADWP General Manager Marcie Edwards, said in a 2014 news release. “The USFS report is a step in the process of determining what occurred. It is our hope that more will be known in the near future about the potential cause of the fire after the equipment is inspected. If it is determined that our equipment was involved in the start of the fire, we will evaluate the damage claims accordingly.”
In June 2014, the Agriculture and Forest Service departments released their findings in the Powerhouse Fire investigation.
“A fault/trip event was logged by the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power’s Power Plant 1 minutes before the initial report of fire,” according to the report. “Gusty wind conditions were observed by responding fire personnel; and visible signs of arcing were observed on a power line conductor in the area of the initial fire attack.
“A damaged insulator was found attached to the same power line with visible signs of arcing. The investigation determined the cause of the fire to be power lines. All other fire cause categories were investigated and excluded.”
In May 2009, October 2012 and May 2013, three fires involving power lines ignited at or near Powerhouse 1, according to the news release.
“With regard to the Singleton Law Firm media release indicating there have been ‘three fires since 2009’ in the area of LADWP Powerhouse 1, the LADWP can confirm only the subject May 2013 Powerhouse Fire. The LADWP has no present confirmation of either the ‘October 2012’ or the ‘May 2009’ fires referenced in the media release, but is now reviewing historical information,” said LADWP officials in a statement made Wednesday. “The LADWP can confirm that no litigation or claims for damage are known to have been filed regarding any October 2012 or May 2009 fires, if any occurred.
“The last significant fire in the Powerhouse 1 area was the June 2002 Copper Canyon Fire when the LADWP suffered losses and sued as a plaintiff, and another party was found completely responsible for the ignition of that fire.”
LADWP released a statement in July 2014, which commented on the equipment in the area, reporting that the power poles and equipment was replaced in 2008 and “does not appear to be a causal factor.”
“Because the May 2013 Powerhouse Fire is a matter of litigation, the LADWP must limit what may be discussed about the pending cases,” LADWP officials said. “The ultimate cause of origin of the fire has not been determined and likely will not be determined pending scientific testing and expert analysis. The LADWP continues to cooperate with all parties regarding cause and origin analysis.”