Woolsey Fire: New lawsuit filed against Southern California Edison on behalf of wildfire's victims

WESTLAKE VILLAGE, Calif. (KABC) -- Attorneys from three law firms on Friday hosted an informational town hall meeting in Westlake Village about a lawsuit that has been filed against Southern California Edison on behalf of victims of the Woolsey Fire.

Three people were killed in the blaze, which burned 96,949 acres and destroyed 1,500 structures in Los Angeles and Ventura counties.

Attorneys who filed the new lawsuit allege the wildfire could have been avoided if Edison had properly maintained its overhead power lines and electrical equipment and cleared away vegetation from its wires.

"We believe there's pretty good evidence, based on the incident reports, that the public utility will be held accountable in this instance," said attorney Richard Bridgford.

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Video shows a daring chopper rescue of three people and two dogs in the middle of the Woolsey Fire.

Wendell Philips, who operates an animal sanctuary in the burn area, said he lost his home and almost half of his animals to the fire.

"In 400 yards, the fire moved from my barn and the animal sanctuary," Philips said. "The house was on fire and it was literally engulfed. Our whole place, I think, burned in about 7 minutes.

"If the power company did this -- and it sounds to me like they did -- that was preventable," he said.

In a statement to ABC7, Edison declined to specifically comment on lawsuits related to the Woolsey Fire, adding that the official cause of the blaze is under investigation by Cal Fire and the Ventura County Fire Department.

"The investigation may take a considerable amount of time to complete," the utility's statement said. "SCE's focus at this time is service restoration to customers still impacted in the Malibu area, and providing additional assistance to customers through the L.A. County local assistance centers."
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