California Wildfires Ignite Probes, Stricter Rules on Utility Companies

California wildfire
Credits: Kent Porter/The Press Democrat via AP

Northern California mourned the deaths of dozens of people and endured the devastation caused by multiple wildfires in October. Just several weeks after firefighters contained those deadly blazes, they are again battling multiple wildfires—this time in Southern California.

On December 4, the so called Thomas Fire began north of Santa Paula. It quickly spread in Ventura and Santa Barbara counties.  The Thomas Fire is the largest among a number of blazes currently torching Southern California. The massive fire already tuned into ashes 270,000 acres, and it is expected to continue burning through January.

According to the California Department of Forestry, the Thomas Fire is now the third most destructive. It already burnt more than 1,000 structures. As of Sunday night, the fire was only 45% contained and thousands of people remained under evacuation.

These multiple wildfires prompted the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) to implement new regulations on utility companies. In addition, the regulator, Cal Fire, and other fire agencies launched an investigation into the causes of the blazes.

Cal Fire, CPUC investigating the causes of recent wildfires

Last week, Southern California Edison (SCE) disclosed that authorities are investigating whether its equipment started the Thomas Fire. SCE said, “The investigations now include locations beyond those identified last week as the apparent origin of these fires. SCE believes the investigations now include the possible role of its facilities.”