Arcing Power Lines Blamed for Sparking California's Deadly Thomas Fire - NBC Southern California
California Wildfires

California Wildfires

Coverage of brush fires across the state

Arcing Power Lines Blamed for Sparking California's Deadly Thomas Fire

The Thomas fire started in Ventura County and scorched hundreds of thousands of acres as it burned into Santa Barbara County

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    OJAI, CA - DECEMBER 09: Firefighters use drip torches to set a backfire at night in an effort to make progress against the Thomas Fire before the winds return with the daylight near Lake Casitas on December 9, 2017 near Ojai, California. Strong Santa Ana winds have been feeding major wildfires all week, destroying hundreds of houses and forcing tens of thousands of people to stay away from their homes. (Photo by David McNew/Getty Images)

    High winds pushing power lines sparked 2017's deadly Thomas Fire, California's second largest wildfire, officials said Wednesday.

    The wind caused power lines to touch, creating an electrical arc that shot out hot, burning molten material onto the ground, according to a news release from the Ventura County Fire Department.

    The Thomas Fire, which started Dec. 4, 2017, burned over 40 days, crossed two counties, caused two deaths, destroyed more than 1,000 structures and charred more than 282,000 acres.

    NBC4 has reached out to Southern California Edison, which owns the power lines, for comment.

    Time-Lapse Shows Rise and Collapse of Wildfire Smoke Plume

    [LA] Watch: Time-Lapse Shows Rise and Collapse of Thomas Fire Smoke Plume

    Video posted Tuesday Dec. 12, 2017 by the Ventura County Fire Department shows the dramatic rise and collapse of a wildfire smoke plume in Southern California. The Thomas Fire began Dec. 4, 2017 in Ventura County and burned more than 230,000 acres as it moved into Santa Barbara County. 

    (Published Tuesday, Dec. 12, 2017)

    In early 2018, business owners, residents and rancher filed a lawsuit against SoCal Edison, citing negligence.

    In Northern California, wind blowing trees into power lines owned by Pacific Gas & Electric were blamed for 170 fires that burned 245,000 acres in Northern California in October 2017.

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