Southern California Edison will pay $210 million to settle litigation filed by various public agencies, including Los Angeles County and the city of Malibu, over the 96,000-acre Woolsey Fire that destroyed more than 1,600 structures, the utility announced Wednesday.
The resolution, which still needs court approval, is part of an overall $360 million settlement with nearly two dozen agencies affected by the 2018 Woolsey Fire, the 2017-18 Thomas Fire that burned in Ventura and Santa Barbara counties and the resulting 2018 Montecito mud flows that killed at least 20 people.
The settlement does not include any admission of wrongdoing by the utility, and it does not resolve individual lawsuits that have been filed against Edison by residents and businesses over the blazes.
“We are pleased to reach agreements to resolve the claims brought by local government entities related to the 2017 and 2018 events,” according to a statement from Pedro J. Pizarro, president/CEO of SCE’s parent company, Edison International. “We look forward to engaging with other parties who have a similar interest in good faith settlement efforts. We also will continue to make substantial investments in our system and enhance our operational practices to reduce the risk of wildfires in our service area and safely provide power to homes and businesses.”
Although an official cause of the Woolsey Fire has not yet been determined, Edison has indicated in recent federal investor filings that it believes its equipment may be associated with the fire’s ignition.
Los Angeles County, which sued Edison in April, issued a statement saying it will receive $62 million from the settlement. Malibu officials said the city will receive $13.7 million.
Other entities receiving funds from the Woolsey Fire portion of the settlement are the Los Angeles County Flood Control District, Consolidated Fire Protection District of Los Angeles County, Ventura County, the Ventura County Watershed Protection District, Ventura County Fire Protection District, city of Agoura Hills, Westlake Village, Calabasas, Hidden Hills, the Conejo Recreation and Park District, Conejo Open Space Conservation Agency, Rancho Simi Recreation and Park District and the city of Thousand Oaks.
“This settlement is an essential step toward accountability and continued recovery,” Los Angeles County Supervisor Sheila Kuehl said. “While this settlement won’t bring back people’s homes or businesses, it’s very important to hold SCE accountable for the devastation caused by this fire.”
Malibu Mayor Karen Farrer said the Woolsey Fire was “one of the worst disasters in the city’s history,” causing “millions of dollars in taxpayer losses.” At the height of the fire, the entire city of Malibu was under evacuation orders.
“This settlement will help the city continue to provide services to the community and keep moving forward with our recovery,” Farrer said.
The Woolsey Fire erupted in Ventura County on Nov. 8, 2018. Pushed by Santa Ana winds, the fire raged southward into Los Angeles County, crossing the Ventura (101) Freeway and into the Santa Monica Mountains toward Malibu and the coastline.
The fire was not fully contained until Nov. 21.
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