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Home » Santa Clarita News » Feds Say Powerhouse Fire Caused By Downed Power Lines
Feds Say Powerhouse Fire Caused By Downed Power Lines

Feds Say Powerhouse Fire Caused By Downed Power Lines

More than one year after dozens lost their homes in the Powerhouse Fire last June, federal officials say the cause was what many suspected all along — downed power lines near a 96-year-old power plant Powerhouse No. 1.

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“The U.S. Forest Service determined the cause of the Powerhouse Fire to be electrical power lines creating a competent ignition source,” according to a U.S. Forest Service news release Monday. “All other causes were excluded.”A KHTS AM-1220 file photo from the Powerhouse Fire

All fire causes were considered, investigated and evaluated during the Powerhouse Fire investigation, officials said, which has lasted more than a year.

Related article: Lawsuit To Seek Millions From LADWP Due To Damages From Powerhouse Fire

The Powerhouse Fire began May 30, 2013, in the Angeles National Forest. Firefighters reported full containment June 10, 2013, after more than 30,000 acres burned.

More than two dozen homes were lost in the blaze.

The fire also resulted in a lawsuit blaming the age of LADWP equipment for the fire.

“No final determination has been made regarding the cause of the fire,” according to a statement released by LADWP officials.   

LADWP has furnished the investigators with all information requested, the statement read.

The suit alleges the fire was “caused by the transmission of power,” said attorney Gerard Singleton, who’s representing the plaintiffs, and if the court agrees, then the LADWP could be liable for damages due to a legal term known as “inverse condemnation.”

“Whether or not they did anything negligent, that we won’t know until we have our inspection,” Singleton said.

LADWP officials do not believe that equipment age was a factor in the cause of the fire.

LADWP officials, who are responsible for the operation of the area’s power facilities, is conducting its own investigation, but it didn’t release any details.

“The LADWP has also been conducting its own investigation into all potential causes of the fire.  As with the US Forest Service investigation, the Department’s investigation is also ongoing,” according to an LADWP statement. “The fire started near LADWP’s historic Powerhouse 1, the site of the original hydroelectric power plant for the City of Los Angeles. No final determination has been made regarding the cause of the fire.”

The Powerhouse Fire started near San Francisquito Road, which connects Santa Clarita and the communities of Lake Elizabeth, in the San Francisquito Canyon in the early evening hours of May 30.

Related article: The Painted Turtle Camp Copes With Powerhouse Fire Aftermath

“It was discovered by an LADWP employee and promptly reported” according to an LADWP statement.

“Winds during the weekend fanned the fire causing its rapid spread to over 50 square miles. LADWP property, including employee housing was also damaged in the fire,” the statement continued.

Powerhouse No. 1, located near where the fire started, is the original power plant for the municipal utility

A hydroelectric plant located on the Los Angeles aqueduct, it was built in 1917. The area has not experienced a major fire since the 1920s which resulted in a significant fuel for the fire after the weekend winds caused the fire to spread rapidly. The power plant currently produces approximately 45 megawatts of power.

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Feds Say Powerhouse Fire Caused By Downed Power Lines

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About Perry Smith

Perry Smith is a print and broadcast journalist who has won several awards for his focused, hyperlocal community coverage in several different regions of the country. In addition to five years of experience covering the Santa Clarita Valley, Smith, a San Fernando Valley native, has worked in newspapers and news websites in Los Angeles, the Northwest, the Central Valley and the South, before coming to KHTS in 2012. To contact Smith, email him at
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