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Witch Creek
& Rice Canyon Fires

Started by sparking power lines, these Southern California wildfires led to almost $2 billion in damages.

On October 21, 2007, the Witch Creek fire began when sparking power lines ignited nearby brush, aided by strong Santa Ana winds.  On the same day, the Rice Canyon fire began when a dead tree limb fell across power lines.  The lines involved in both fires were maintained by San Diego Gas & Electric.  The Guejito fire began within 12 hours of the Witch Creek fire igniting, and the three fires quickly merged. Combined, the fires killed two people, injured 40 firefighters, and forced more than 10,000 people to seek shelter at Qualcomm Stadium.  More than 1,300 homes were destroyed in the blaze that lasted almost a month.

On November 30, 2017, the California Public Utilities Commission rejected a request from SDG&E to pass onto ratepayers $379 million in costs related to three deadly wildfires.  In making the decision, the commissioners ruled SDG&E did not reasonably manage and operate its facilities leading up to the Witch Creek, Guejito and Rice Canyon fires. Ultimately, SDG&E paid almost $2 billion in damages.

Prescient’s innovative wildfire risk assessment tool will help the electric utility industry to modernize to the lowest possible wildfire risk, and prevent fires from being started by sparking power lines. Contact us to learn more.  

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