California utility probing possibility wires involved in wildfire

Environment

FILE PHOTO: The Canyon Fire burns hillsides in Corona, California, September 25, 2017. REUTERS/Kyle Grillot

(Reuters) – A California utility informed regulators on Thursday that it was investigating whether a devastating wildfire near Malibu last month may have been caused by contact between a wire that provides pole support and a live wire.

Southern California Edison, in a letter to the California Public Utilities Commission, said it had not found evidence of an energized wire on the ground in the area where the Woolsey Fire was believed to have started on Nov. 8.

It did, however, find a so-called guy wire, which runs from the top of the pole to the ground, near a jumper wire that is used to connect two energized lines.

The utility said it is evaluating whether the guy wire came into contact with the jumper, which could have had the potential to cause the blaze. Some of the equipment is currently being tested by fire officials.

The cause of the fire may not be determined until additional information is available, Edison said.

The Woolsey Fire burned 97,000 acres near the Malibu coast, destroying 1,500 structures and causing three deaths, according to state fire officials.

Southern California Edison is a division of Edison International.

Reporting by Nichola Groom; Editing by Sonya Hepinstall

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