LA’s Getty fire was sparked by branch falling on power lines, Mayor Garcetti says

Video footage shows the branch breaking off a eucalyptus tree and sparking the fire in the 1900 block of North Sepulveda Boulevard, Garcetti said.

The power lines being examined are operated by the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, according to a fire official. The agency said it was cooperating with the investigation.

Unlike Pacific Gas & Electric and Southern California Edison, the state’s largest power providers, the DWP does not shut off service to customers before or during a wind event. Its service footprint is also in a highly urbanized, less wildfire-prone area, compared with the other utilities.

An example of what can happen:

“Our systems are completely different,” Andrew Kendall, senior assistant manager of the DWP’s power system, said at a board meeting earlier this month. “We have a 465-square-mile service territory. PG&E’s is 70,000 square miles, Edison is 50,000 square miles.”

He said that, for the most part, those utilities are shutting down their distribution systems, not their transmission systems.

“Most of ours, if not the majority of ours, are in an area where we’re no more than a five- to seven-minute LAFD response,” Kendall said. “So right now, at this time and based on previous history, we don’t feel we’re at a point where it’s prudent to do a shutdown.”

The Getty fire broke out shortly after 1:30 a.m. Monday along the 405 Freeway near the Getty Center museum and spread to the south and west, rapidly burning more than 600 acres and sending thousands of people fleeing from their homes in the dark.

About 600 DWP customers in the Getty fire area remained without power Tuesday.

At about 3:19 a.m. Monday, the utility took three circuits out of service, resulting in 2,600 customers losing power in Bel-Air, Brentwood and Westwood. One of the circuits is still de-energized. The other two have been turned back on, said Carol Tucker, a spokeswoman for the utility.

Los Angeles Fire Chief Ralph Terrazas said that, despite firefighters’ efforts, eight homes, including some on Tigertail Road, have been destroyed in the blaze. Six others were damaged. Some homes that were destroyed were adjacent to properties that didn’t sustain any damage at all, he said.

Also, in an ominous new warning, the National Weather Service issued a rare “extreme red-flag warning” for Southern California through Thursday evening, saying Santa Ana winds could top 80 mph and be the strongest in more than a decade.

Source: LA’s Getty fire was sparked by branch falling on power lines, Mayor Garcetti says

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