California utility pays $22 million to settle federal claims over 2016 wildfire

Jul 7, 2023, 6:32 PM

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Southern California Edison and two other companies have paid $22 million to settle U.S. government claims that they caused a 2016 wildfire that burned thousands of acres of national forest, it was announced Friday.

The money covers damage from the Rey Fire as well as the costs of fighting the blaze, which was sparked by a fallen Edison power line, the U.S. Department of Justice announced.

“This settlement will compensate the public for the expense of fighting the Rey Fire and restoring these federal lands that are enjoyed by all Americans,” First Assistant U.S. Attorney Joseph T. McNally said in a statement.

The companies agreed to pay without admitting wrongdoing or fault, according to the DOJ.

The Aug. 18, 2016, fire north of Santa Barbara burned more than 50 square miles (129 square kilometers) of land, much of it in Los Padres National Forest.

The government said the fire began when a tree fell onto Edison power lines and communications lines owned by Frontier Communications. The government sued the two companies along with Utility Tree Service, a tree-trimming company that contracted with Edison, alleging that they knew of the danger and failed to maintain equipment or to take action to prevent it.

The parties later agreed to dismiss the suit and entered into a settlement, which was approved by the DOJ in May, with all of the money being received by this week, according to the department.

California utilities have been blamed for starting some of the state’s largest and deadliest wildfires in recent years through neglect of power lines and other equipment. That has prompted huge fines and settlement payments and even criminal charges.

In May, a judge a 2020 fatal wildfire sparked by its equipment that destroyed hundreds of homes and killed four people, including an 8-year-old.

The utility also reached a $50 million settlement agreement with the Shasta County District Attorney’s Office.

Last year, former PG&E executives and directors agreed to pay $117 million to settle a lawsuit over devastating 2017 and 2018 wildfires sparked by the utility’s equipment.

United States News

FILE - Republican presidential candidate and former President Donald Trump speaks to Texas state tr...

Associated Press

Appeals court upholds gag order on Trump in Washington case but narrows restrictions on his speech

A federal appeals court in Washington on Friday largely upheld a gag order on former President Donald Trump in his 2020 election interference case but narrowed the restrictions on his speech.

23 minutes ago

FILE - Migrant families wade through shallow waters toward Roma, Texas, March 24, 2021. A federal j...

Associated Press

Federal judge prohibits separating migrant families at US border for 8 years

A federal judge on Friday prohibited the separation of families at the border for purposes of deterring immigration for eight years.

1 hour ago

Associated Press

Indiana secretary of state appeals ruling for US Senate candidate seeking GOP nod

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — The Indiana secretary of state is appealing a ruling that a law stipulating voting requirements for a candidate’s party affiliation is unconstitutional in a decision that lifted the hopes of a U.S. Senate hopeful who wants to run as a Republican. The Indiana attorney general’s office filed the notice of appeal Friday […]

2 hours ago

Associated Press

Nashville Police investigation into leak of Covenant School shooter’s writings is inconclusive

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Nashville Police have “exhausted all available investigative avenues” in the hunt for the person who leaked pages from a school shooter’s journals to a conservative commentator, the department announced in an email sent to media late on Friday. The writings are part of an ongoing legal battle over whether they should […]

2 hours ago

Associated Press

Arkansas man sentenced to 5 1/2 years for firebombing police cars during 2020 protests

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — The ringleader of a group who admitted to firebombing several police cars in Arkansas during the 2020 protests over the killing of George Floyd has been sentenced to five and a half years in federal prison, while three of his co-defendants were sentenced to 18 months each. A federal judge […]

3 hours ago

Associated Press

Guest lineups for the Sunday news shows

WASHINGTON (AP) — ABC’s “This Week” — Secretary of State Antony Blinken; former Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo. ___ NBC’s “Meet the Press” — Sens. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, and Chris Murphy, D-Conn. ___ CBS’ “Face the Nation” — Shalanda Young, director of the White House Office of Management and Budget; Sens. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., and James […]

4 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

(KTAR News Graphic)...

KTAR launches online holiday auction benefitting Boys & Girls Clubs of the Valley

KTAR is teaming up with The Boys & Girls Clubs of the Valley for a holiday auction benefitting thousands of Valley kids.

Follow @KTAR923...

The best ways to honor our heroes on Veterans Day and give back to the community

Veterans Day is fast approaching and there's no better way to support our veterans than to donate to the Military Assistance Mission.

Follow @KTAR923...

West Hunsaker at Morris Hall supports Make-A-Wish Foundation in Arizona

KTAR's Community Spotlight this month focuses on Morris Hall and its commitment to supporting the Make-A-Wish Foundation in Arizona.

California utility pays $22 million to settle federal claims over 2016 wildfire