A lawsuit was filed Thursday on behalf of victims of the massive Creek Fire against the city of Los Angeles and its Department of Water and Power, alleging the utility’s negligently installed and maintained electrical equipment and power lines were responsible for the blaze.
The Creek Fire ignited near Sylmar in December 2017 and scorched more than 15,600 acres while destroying 61 homes and 63 outbuildings, and damaging another 55 homes and 26 outbuildings, officials said.
The lawsuit filed by the law firms McNicholas & McNicholas, Frantz Law Group, Becker Law Group, and Bridgford, Gleason & Artinian alleges the LADWP disregarded known wildfire risks, as well as failed to heed high wind weather warnings from the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection and the National Weather Service to safeguard the impact to the overhead power lines.
Rob Wilcox, a spokesman for Los Angeles City Attorney Mike Feuer, did not immediately respond to a request to comment.
“The National Weather Service issued a multitude of `red flag’ warnings and `fire weather watches’ across Southern California due to the low humidity, record-high temperatures, and anticipated 50-mph wind gusts in the region. Such warnings should have created significant concern and preventative action from LADWP,” said Patrick McNicholas, a partner at McNicholas & McNicholas. “They failed to take reasonable precautions to protect residents from a clearly foreseeable risk, and their conscious disregard for safety caused devastation throughout nine communities.”
The Los Angeles Times reported that witnesses saw a snapped line on a high-voltage transmission tower in Little Tujunga Canyon that sent off sparks as it whipped high overhead at the start of the fire.
The lawsuit alleges that had the LADWP followed the necessary standard of care in inspecting, maintaining and repairing its transmission lines, the fire could have been mitigated.