Utility to Pay $2B Settlement in Deadly 2018 California Fire

LOS ANGELES (AP) -- Southern California Edison will pay $2.2 billion to settle insurance claims from a deadly, destructive wildfire sparked by its equipment in 2018, the utility announced Monday.

Edison, which acknowledged no wrongdoing, said the agreement covers all claims in pending lawsuits from insurance companies related to the Woolsey fire, which blackened 151 square miles (391 square kilometers) of Los Angeles and Ventura counties. Three people died in the November 2018 fire, and more than 1,600 homes and other buildings were destroyed.

In addition, Edison said it has finalized settlements from the December 2017 Thomas fire and mudslides a month later on land that burned.

“We have made another significant step toward resolving pending wildfire-related litigation,” Edison CEO Pedro Pizarro said in the statement.

Total expected losses for the 2017 and 2018 events are estimated to be $4.6 billion, the utility statement said.

“The settlement was fair to all and consistent with prior cases against Edison and other utilities,” Craig Simon, co-lead counsel for the insurance companies, said in a statement to the Ventura County Star.

Investigations determined Edison equipment sparked both the Woolsey and Thomas fires. In recent years, utility equipment has been blamed for multiple wildfires across the state.

The state's largest utility, Pacific Gas & Electric, was forced into bankruptcy in 2019 after facing liability for devastating blazes in Northern California.