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Press Release

Southern California Edison Agrees to Pay United States $80 Million to Resolve Lawsuit Stemming from 2017 Thomas Fire

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Central District of California
Largest Wildfire Cost Recovery Settlement in Central District of California

LOS ANGELES – Southern California Edison (SCE) has agreed to pay the United States $80 million to resolve claims on behalf of the U.S. Forest Service to recoup costs and damages associated with the 2017 Thomas Fire in the Los Padres National Forest, the Justice Department announced today.

The settlement finalized Friday afternoon is the largest wildfire cost recovery settlement by the United States in the Central District of California. The Thomas Fire burned more than 280,000 acres – approximately 440 square miles – including over 150,000 acres of National Forest System lands in Ventura and Santa Barbara counties.

The Thomas Fire ignited in two locations on the evening of December 4, 2017. The first ignition was in Anlauf Canyon north of the City of Santa Paula. The second ignition occurred at the top of Koenigstein Road in Upper Ojai. The two fires joined and came to be known as the Thomas Fire.

In 2020, the United States filed a lawsuit on behalf of the Forest Service against SCE to recover costs incurred fighting the Thomas Fire and for the extensive damages that it caused to the Los Padres National Forest.

The United States alleged that SCE owned, maintained and operated power lines that caused both ignitions of the Thomas Fire. In Anlauf Canyon, the United States alleged that SCE power lines made contact with each other during a high-wind event, causing heated material to ignite dry vegetation below the conductors. On Koenigstein Road, the United States alleged that an SCE power pole transformer failed and caused an energized power line to fall to the ground, igniting adjacent dry vegetation.

“This record settlement provides significant compensation to taxpayers for the extensive costs of fighting the Thomas Fire and for the widespread damage to public lands,” said First Assistant United States Attorney Joseph T. McNally. “The United States Attorney’s Office will continue to aggressively pursue compensation from any entity that causes harm to our forests and other precious national resources.”

SCE agreed to pay the settlement without admitting wrongdoing or fault. SCE agreed to pay the $80 million settlement within 60 days of the effective date of the settlement agreement, which was February 23.

Assistant United States Attorneys Jill S. Casselman and Matthew Smock of the Complex and Defensive Litigation Section negotiated the settlement in this case.


Thom Mrozek
Director of Media Relations
(213) 894-6947

Updated February 26, 2024

Press Release Number: 24-047