A federal lawsuit filed on Friday, Sept. 1 against Southern California Edison and one of its contractors alleges that the companies are responsible for the Bobcat fire, which burned over 100,000 acres in 2020 and scorched trails, campgrounds, and national forest land.
The lawsuit alleges that SCE and its contractor, Utility Tree Services, did not maintain trees that came into contact with power lines and caused the massive blaze, and is therefore liable for damages sustained by the fire.
According to the complaint, the U.S.Forest Service spent more than $50 million dollars on fire suppression, and incurred more than $65 million in property and natural resource damages due to the fire.
Three years after the fire, more than 100 miles of trails and campgrounds in Angeles National Forest are still closed. Several landmarks, including the Devil’s Punchbowl nature center just outside the popular trail, burned.
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“Our thoughts remain with the people whose lives were affected by the Bobcat fire, and those who lost homes, vehicles, and were evacuated,” spokesperson for SCE Gabriela Ornelas commented. “We are reviewing the U.S. Department of Justice’s legal option, but it would not be appropriate to discuss outside of a courtroom.”
According to the U.S. Attorney’s office, the money sought in the damages would cover firefighting efforts, and remediation to repair damages to the forest. A specific dollar amount has not been determined.
Faulty equipment has been found responsible for other wildfires, such as the 2018 Camp Fire, the most destructive in California’s history, which burned over 150,000 acres.
UTS did not respond to a request for comment.