A Southern California Edison transmission line was active at the time the Easy fire broke out Wednesday in Simi Valley, officials said Thursday morning.
The blaze has scorched at least 1,700 acres while threatening thousands of homes and the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library. It was 10% contained Thursday morning.
The disclosure came Wednesday afternoon, when the Rosemead-based utiltiy informed the California Public Utilities Commission of the active line in the area near where the fire broke out — Easy Street and Los Angeles Avenue, about 4 miles north of the Reagan Library.
The active line is significant because it came as lines throughout Southern California and the state have been pre-emptively shut off by utilities wary that they could spark fires under extreme red flag conditions.
“On October 30, 2019, a large brush fire known as the Easy Fire was reported at approximately 6:09 a.m. SCE informed there was circuit activity on the Moorpark-Royal 66 kV circuit close in time to the report ofthe fire,” according to the disclosure. “SCE submits this report as it meets the subject of significant public attention or media coverage reporting requirement.”
The disclosure is not an admission of a cause of the fire, but it has launched investigations by the CPUC and a review by SCE.
“While the exact origin is unkown, SCE can confirm that the reported location of the fire is in its service territory and that SCE has facilities, including a 66kV subtransmission line, that runs through that area,” said SCE spokesman Robert Villegas.
“Out of an abundance of caution, we notiifed the CPUC on Oct. 30 that near the reported time of the fire there was activity on that 66kv subtransmission line, which consistent with our public safety power shutoff protocols was not de-energized.”
Villegas did not elaborate on why the line was still active.
“It’s very early in that process,” Villegas said.
Ventura County arson investigators have been working the area for a cause.
On Wednesday, even as fierce winds drove the blaze, they had been canvassing the area near a homeless encampment, where residents there said they had seen the fire in its early stages. Power lines hang over the patch of land where the encampment sits.
This week, a report said Southern California Edison equipment was responsible for the ignition Nov. 8 of the Woolsey Fire, which destroyed 1,643 structures, killed three people and prompted the evacuation of more than 295,000 people in Los Angeles and Ventura counties, SCE said.
Fueled by some of the most powerful wind gusts of the season, the Easy fire grew Thursday to 1,723 charred acres on its second day. It’s 10% contained.
Staff reporter Olga Grigoryants contributed to this report.