Powerhouse fire victims sue Los Angeles Department of Water and Power

Powerhouse fire victims sue Los Angeles Department of Water and Power

23 April 2014

published by www.dailynews.com

USA — Victims of last year’s massive Powerhouse Fire are suing the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, claiming the utility’s failure to properly maintain its power lines and equipment is to blame for the blaze.

The fire burned 53 structures, including 24 homes, over more than 30,000 acres near Santa Clarita and in the Angeles National Forest.

About 100 plaintiffs, ranging from homeowners to a camp for disabled children, filed suit last month for negligence, dangerous condition of public property and other allegations. They are seeking unspecified damages in Los Angeles Superior Court. Ultimately, the cost for damages could be passed onto ratepayers.

Attorney Gerald Singleton, who is representing the plaintiffs, said his group conducted an investigation into the cause of the fire, which started May 30, 2013.

“You weed out every cause besides the power lines,” Singleton said in a phone interview. “It doesn’t look like there are any other ignition sources.”

Results of a U.S. Forest Service investigation have not been released. The DWP, in a statement, said it is also conducting an investigation.

“LADWP has furnished the investigators with all information requested,” the statement reads. “LADWP does not believe that equipment age was a factor in the cause of the fire.”

The fire started near the site of Powerhouse 1, the original hydroelectric power plant for the city of Los Angeles. It forced the evacuation of 3,000 residents from the foothill hamlets of Lake Hughes and Lake Elizabeth to desert communities in Lancaster.

Nearly 2,200 firefighters converged from across the West to fight the blaze driven by high winds, triple-digit temperatures and unseasonably dry brush not burned for nearly a century.

Once the DWP is officially served with the complaint, it will have 30 days to respond.

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