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SCE: Investigators look at 2 possible ignition areas for Fairview Fire

Southern California Edison revealed in a letter that Cal Fire investigators have found two areas of interest into a possible cause in the 28,000+ acre Fairview Fire near Hemet.

One area is near a power pole line related to overhead equipment, owned by SCE and Frontier Communications, according to SCE's letter to the California Public Utilities Commission.

A second area just 500 feet west of that is also being looked at. SCE claims it was cordoned off by yellow and red tape at the time. 

SCE revealed in the letter that there was “circuit activity” reported near where the fire was first reported.

During removal of equipment for the investigation, some of the poles owned by Edison and Frontier “exhibited what appeared to be signs of marks or damage,” the letter said.

“However, it is not known when this condition occurred or if these materials were impacted by the circuit activity that occurred on September 5, 2022, or whether they contributed to the ignition of the Fairview Fire,” Edison’s letter said.

News Channel 3 interviewed Hemet resident Doug Keefe who lives close to where the Fairview burned.

"If the electric company is pinned for this, then all its consumers will pay down the line in the sense of perhaps not justified power outages just for preventive maintenance," said Keefe. "I don't want them to unnecessarily take the blame. I see them working in preventive maintenance well before the fire."

Keefe said he is worried that if SCE is found guilty of causing the fire, the company will quicker to shut off the power in the area to avoid a wildfire. 

The utility identified 26 power poles that needed to be replaced, according to the letter.

An official cause has not been determined.

The Fairview Fire first sparked on Sept. 5. It killed two people and destroyed at least 35 homes and other structures last month.

SCE also revealed in the letter that fire suppression costs are estimated at more than $38 million.

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Marian Bouchot

Marian Bouchot is the weekend morning anchor and a reporter for KESQ News Channel 3. Learn more about Marian here.

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