California authorities have determined that a major utility company is to blame for the 2022 wildfire that killed two people, the Washington Post reported on Wednesday.
The Post, citing a California Department of Forestry & Fire Protection (Cal Fire) document that has not yet been made public, reported that a Southern California Edison (SCE) power line crashed and hit a communication line. below it, causing sparks to ignite nearby vegetation on September 5, 2022.
The resulting fast-moving fire burned more than 28,000 hectares (11,300 acres) in Riverside County, near the town of Hemet, about 75 miles (120 km) southeast of Los Angeles. The fire injured one person in addition to killing two, state authorities said at the time.
SCE, a subsidiary of Edison International, did not confirm the contents of the Cal Fire report, but said it had reviewed the document and added that it was cooperating with state authorities in their investigation.
“Our hearts go out to the community and the people who suffered the losses of the Fairview Fire,” SCE spokeswoman Diane Castro said.
Castro declined to provide any details on what was in the Cal Fire report or confirm the Washington Post article.
Cal Fire did not immediately respond to a request for comment, nor did the California Public Utilities Commission, which regulates private utility companies.
More than two decades of drought and rising temperatures, exacerbated by climate change, have made California more vulnerable to wildfires.
Power companies are often blamed for causing wildfires by not shutting down transmission grids during high winds, which can knock down power lines and ignite vegetation.