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Lawsuit alleges SoCal Edison ‘created perfect storm’ that led to Laguna Niguel brush fire

By Marc Cota-Robles

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    LAGUNA NIGUEL, California (KABC) — A lawsuit filed Tuesday against Southern California Edison alleges the company was liable for the brush fire in Laguna Niguel that destroyed 20 homes and damaged another 11 last week.

While the cause of the fire is still under investigation, the Newport Beach law firm of Bridgford, Gleason and Artinian filed suit on behalf of the victims who had their homes burned down, as well as on behalf of numerous evacuees.

“Based on our investigation to date and discussions with our consultants, we are informed and we strongly believe that the failure of the utility’s equipment was responsible for the tragic loss of the victims’ homes and their displacement,” a statement from the firm said.

“Once again, the utility’s failure to underground their dangerous electrical wires or to properly maintain their equipment has turned the lives of innocent homeowners completely upside down.”

About 30 homes in the path of the Coastal Fire remain under evacuation orders. The houses are all on Coronado Pointe.

The lawsuit claims that SCE’s failure to properly clear brush and maintain its equipment “created the perfect storm for disaster” that sparked the devastating blaze.

“Had Defendants 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 lawsuit alleges.

“Instead, 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.”

Authorities said the fire burned about 200 acres, destroying 20 homes and damaging 11. The blaze is now 100% contained after it erupted last Wednesday and forced as many as 900 homes to be evacuated.

David Eisenhauer, spokesperson for Southern California Edison, said the following to Eyewitness News:

“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.”

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