Coastal Fire Ignites Laguna Niguel Lawsuit Against SoCal Edison

A lawyer for the residents whose homes were devoured tells LAMag that they have photographic evidence proving the power co. is to blame

Residents impacted by the 200-acre Coastal Fire that began in Aliso Woods Canyon and raged through Laguna Niguel’s exclusive Coronado Pointe neighborhood destroying twenty homes last week are suing SoCal Edison.

The Newport Beach law firm of Bridgford, Gleason, and Artinian brought the action on behalf of the residents on Tuesday. In the filing, obtained by Fox 11, the plaintiffs claim that if SoCal Edison had “followed the standard of care in inspecting, maintaining, and repairing its overhead lines, properly maintaining its electrical equipment, and trimming away vegetation from its wires as required by law and industry standards, the catastrophic Coastal Fire could have been avoided.”

The document further alleges that “defendants knowingly or negligently fell below those standards, and created the perfect storm for disaster when combined with the known presence of drought and dry vegetation which fuels this type of fire.”

Speaking with LAMag Wednesday, attorney Richard Bridgford said that “in terms of causation, we’re still investigating this based upon an extensive research, discussion with our consultants, and in particular photographic evidence, both satellite and that produced by our clients and other sources.”

Although the investigation is still in its initial stage, Bridgford says the law firm “represents a significant number” of those that lost their homes as well as some evacuees.

Bridgford continued, “We have photographic evidence placing the origin of the fire just beneath SCE’s equipment… We’re fairly convinced that the ignition [spread from] there to the to the canyon as a result of SCS equipment.”

CBS News Los Angeles reported that SoCal Edison wrote in a letter to the California Public Utilities Commission that “our information reflects circuit activity occurring close in time to the reported time of the fire. Our investigation is ongoing.”

SCE spokesman Reggie Kumar tells LAMag, “Our thoughts are with the community members whose homes have been damaged and those who were evacuated because of the Coastal Fire and we are coordinating with fire agencies as needed to ensure firefighter safety. It would be inappropriate to discuss any possible litigation.”

According to the Orange County Fire Agency, of the roughly 500 firefighters that had worked to contain the fire, two had been injured but were later released from the hospital and are recovering. OCFA also tweeted that “there were no reported injuries or loss of life to any residents or their pets.”

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