KBUU Exclusive: Loose SCE Wires Sparked 2 Separate Fires In Woolsey Canyon That Day, Says CALFIRE
Written by 991KBU on October 30, 2020
The Woolsey Fire that destroyed western Malibu … two years ago … started not at one … but at two places.
That’s according to the official CalFire investigation into the fire … an investigation that is key to the lawsuits filed for the nearly six billion dollars worth of homes and businesses that were destroyed in November 2018.
KBUU has obtained a copy of the CalFire report.
A judge had kept it under secrecy orders for more than a year … because of the homicide investigation that is ongoing.
Southern California Edison could face manslaughter charges as a result of the fire … which killed three people near Malibu.
The CalFire report is an indictment against Southern California Edison … and to a lesser extent … the Boeing Company.
It says the power lines that flashed over that windy day caught a hillside on fire in wind gusts of just 37 miles per hour.
That’s far below the 92 mile per hour state safety standard.
37 mile per hour wind gusts were measured as the Big Rock Circuit failed … on the Santa Susanna Field Lab property 25 miles inland from Malibu.
That land is now controlled by Boeing … which maintains a small fire station on the property.
And when the power line flashed over on November 8th … 2018 … it caused not one … but two fires.
They were about a quarter mile apart … and the Boeing Company’s fire syation had one fire truck.
It called for backup from Ventura County.
But the majority of Ventura County fire trucks were battling a brushfire … the Hill Fire … near Camarillo.
So that one firetruck crew at Boeing called in Los Angeles city and Los Angeles county firefighters.
Access from Ventura County to that area is difficult … and all the different fire departments practice to assist each other when fires to break out like this.
But in this case … the backup coming in from the San Fernando Valley was too little too late.
The CalFire Report is only about how the fire broke out.
Not about how it was fought.
The Woolsey Fire Investigation Team interviewed 65 witnesses.
126 pieces of fallen powerlines … poles and other evidence were examined.
The Calfire report determines that electrical equipment on SCE’s Big Rock 16,000 volt circuit was the cause of the Woolsey Fire.
The fire was caused by a series of events …starting when a slack transmission guy wire arced.
Guy wires are not supposed to be slack … they are supposed to be tight.
Also … by the way … a slack guy wire is easy to spot from a distance.
Back to the Calfire report …. the loose guy wire came into contact with a jumper conductor on a pole.
A jumper connecter goes from one power line … over or under the insulator … to the next one.
That lit up the slack guy wire … and electricity flowed into both it and a second guy wire … which was also slack.
And that second guy wire in turn was in contact with an SCE communications line.
It lit up … and it started showering sparks to the east a quarter mile.
That series of events resulted in heated material falling into dry brush … in at least two places separated by a quarter mile.
The winds at this point were gusting only to 37 miles per hour at a nearby gauge.
The two small fires quickly merged … and forced all the workers at the Santa Susanna Lab to evacuate down a mountain access road …. Woolsey Canyon Road … to safety.
The Woolsey Fire subsequently burned 96,949 acres … killing three people and damaging or destroying 2,007 buildings … worth 5 to 6 billion dollars.
All this happened at the Santa Susanna Field Lab … a chunk of U-S government owned land north of Agoura Hills … south of Simi Valley.
It’s an old government-owned … private industry leased complex of industrial research and development facilities.
It was used mainly for the development and testing of liquid-propellant rocket engines for the United States space program from 1949 to 2006.
Early and primitive nuclear reactors were up there from 1953 to 1980 … one opf them melted down in 1959.
The U.S. government sponsored a liquid metals research center there until 1998.
Liquid metals are dangerous … as are the remnants of rocket fuel .. and radioactive waste in the dirt up there…. 25 miles up from Malibu.
A small portion of the Malibu Creek watershed drains out of the Santa Susanna Field Lab.
NASA … the Energy Department … Boeing and other agencies are currently in the process of decommissioning … demolishing and cleaning up.
A group of scientists say the effort has been botched … and the current administration in Washington is proposing a watered down cleanup.