Edison power lines may have started Silverado fires in Irvine

Edison of Southern California is currently investigating whether electrical devices could have caused the Silverado Fire, which set more than 7,200 acres on fire in Irvine and caused more than 60,000 people to flee their homes.

In a brief report to the state commission for public utilities, Edison said a “lashing wire” attached to a third-party telecommunications line may have hit a chief conductor and an investigation is ongoing.

The cause of the fire has not yet been determined.

The fire broke out in the bushland around Santiago Canyon and Silverado Canyon roads just after 6:45 a.m. Monday as winds from Santa Ana pushed it westward to the suburbs of Irvine and Lake Forest. By Tuesday morning, more than 70,000 people in the foothills were under evacuation order.

Orange County Fire Department chief Brian Fennessy said two firefighters who were on hand were badly burned fighting the flames.

The firefighters, ages 26 and 31, were both intubated after suffering second and third degree burns over half their bodies, Fennessy said.

Malfunction of electrical systems was a cause of some of the worst fires in California, including the 2018 Paradise warehouse fire that killed 85 people and destroyed thousands of homes. Pacific Gas & Electric said its lines started this fire in high winds.

PG&E filed for bankruptcy because this fire and others that swept the wine country in 2017 suffered losses.

Earlier this year, Edison said it was investigating whether his lines were causing the Bobcat Fire in the San Gabriel Mountains. This flame, which has been burning for more than a month, is almost contained.

The Times employee Alex Wigglesworth contributed to this report.

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