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SoCal Edison Power Line Blamed For Sparking Devastating Thomas Fire

VENTURA (CBSLA) - A downed power line owned by Southern California Edison was the cause of the devastating 2017 Thomas Fire in Ventura County, officials announced Wednesday.

The 281,893-acre fire which broke out Dec. 4, 2017, in Santa Paula forced thousands of people to evacuate and destroyed a staggering 1,063 structures -- including more than 750 homes – and damaged another 280 more. Firefighting costs topped at least $174 million.

According to a statement from the Ventura County Fire Department, a high wind event caused the power lines to come into contact with each other, creating an electrical arc, which in turn "deposited hot, burning or molten material onto the ground, in a receptive fuel bed, causing the fire."

The power line is owned by Edison, officials said.

Edison didn't have any immediate comment.

San Diego CAL Fire engineer Cory Iverson, 32, died Dec. 14 of burns and smoke inhalation while battling the flames. The blaze is also blamed for the Dec. 6 death of a 70-year-old woman who died in a car crash on an evacuation route.

The investigation was conducted by county and state officials, including CAL FIRE, Ventura County Sheriff's Office, and the U.S. Forest Service.

Earlier Wednesday, CAL FIRE announced it determined that equipment owned by utility PG&E caused many of the fires that scorched at least 245,000 acres in Napa, Lake, Sonoma, Mendocino, Butte, and Solano Counties.

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