Utility faces lawsuit over fire that led to deadly mudslides
LOS ANGELES (AP) — A coastal California resident whose partner was killed during devastating mudslides in January has sued a utility, alleging its faulty equipment sparked a huge wildfire that stripped hillsides bare ahead of heavy rains that inundated their home.
Lalo Barajas and Peter Fleurat were swept away when mud and boulders crashed through their house in Montecito. Fleurat’s body was found the following day.
A wrongful-death lawsuit filed Wednesday by Barajas and Fleurat’s siblings claims Southern California Edison transformers ignited California’s largest-ever wildfire in December. The suit says the blaze could have been prevented and the debris flows wouldn’t have happened as a result.
It’s one of two similar lawsuits filed this week. An Edison spokesman says it’s premature to comment because the fire’s cause is still under investigation.