SoCal Edison sued by Thomas Fire victims alleging equipment failure caused historic blazeJanuary 4, 2018 | KABC-TV Los Angeles
VENTURA, Calif. (KABC) --Several lawsuits were filed against Southern California Edison that claim the utility company failed to monitor equipment in Santa Paula that may have caused the historic Thomas Fire.
Since the fire started, it has charred 281,892 acres and destroyed at least 1,063 structures in Ventura and Santa Barbara counties. Nearly 300 other structures were damaged.
In addition to destroying or damaging homes, the fire also claimed the lives of a San Diego firefighter and Santa Paula woman, who crashed her vehicle trying to flee the flames.
The lawsuits were filed in early December by at least two attorneys serving multiple clients. One attorney, Alexander Robertson, said he has filed at least four lawsuits that represent about 50 people impacted by the fire.
Another of the suits is a class-action lawsuit, which claims negligence on the part of the Los Angeles-based utility company.
The lawsuit, filed by attorney William Weilbacher, claims that on Dec. 4, 2017 - which is when the fire started in the Steckel Park area of Santa Paula - that there were strong winds in the area, but nothing out of the ordinary. During that time, SCE equipment failed and caused the fire, according to court documents.
It also claims that SCE failed to properly maintain, operate and design equipment that was the source or cause of the fire, that the utility failed to remediate areas of surrounding brush and failed to adopt or follow reasonable protective measures that could have prevented the blaze.
The residents who are part of the lawsuit either lost their home or had it damaged in the massive fire.
Damages amounts were not specified in the lawsuits.
In early December, Cal Fire investigators said they were looking into whether the utility company's equipment was the possible origin for not just the Thomas Fire, but other fires that erupted in Southern California.
The investigation into SoCal Edison marked the second in the state of a utility in 2017, according to a report in the San Francisco Chronicle.