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Southern California Edison, other companies pay $22-million settlement in Rey fire

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Southern California Edison and two other companies have paid out $22 million to the U.S. government to settle a lawsuit for their roles in the massive 2016 Rey fire, the U.S. Justice Department announced this week.

Edison, Utility Tree Service LLC and Frontier Communications Holdings LLC paid the U.S. to resolve claims on behalf of the U.S. Forest Service, the department said Friday. The government filed a lawsuit to recover costs related to the fire, which burned more than 32,000 acres in Santa Barbara County.

The companies agreed to the settlement without admitting wrongdoing or fault, the department said.

“This settlement will compensate the public for the expense of fighting the Rey Fire and restoring these federal lands that are enjoyed by all Americans,” First Assistant U.S. Attorney Joseph T. McNally said in a statement.

The Rey fire broke out Aug. 18, 2016, when a tree fell onto power lines and communication lines owned by Southern California Edison and Frontier, the department said. The government alleged the fallen tree caused a malfunction of SCE’s equipment and a downed power line ignited the fire on dry vegetation.

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