Edison denies liability in 2007 Sequoia National Forest fire near Kernville, settles for $1.8M

FRESNO, Calif. - Southern California Edison has agreed to pay $1.8 million to settle a lawsuit brought by the United States for damages resulting from a 2007 wildfire that burned 1,320 acres of national forest land.

The fire, known as the “James Fire,” ignited on April 29, 2007, near the James Market in Kernville, Calif., when poorly-maintained hardware on a power distribution line owned by Edison caused an electrical fault, and molten material fell to the ground below, igniting dry vegetation.

By the time the fire was suppressed, 1,350 acres had been burned, nearly all of which was land within the Sequoia National Forest.

“The settlement is a significant step toward compensating the public for the expense of fighting the fire and restoring the public lands,” United States Attorney Wagner said, “We will continue to aggressively pursue compensation from those who are responsible for wildfires that damage our precious national resources.”

“These settlement funds are essential in achieving our ecological restoration goals within burned areas,” said U.S. Forest Service Pacific Southwest Regional Forester Randy Moore.

In the last four years, the U.S. Attorney’s Office has secured settlements in 17 different cases involving wildfire damage to federal lands, with a total value of more than $228.3 million.

In the settlement filed today, Southern California Edison agreed to pay $1.8 million to resolve the lawsuit. Edison denies liability for the fire. Assistant United States Attorney Colleen M. Kennedy prosecuted the case.

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