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By Casey Christie/ The Californian
By THE BAKERSFIELD CALIFORNIAN
Southern California Edison has agreed to pay the U.S. Department of Justice $1.8 million to settle a lawsuit resulting from a 2007 fire outside Kernville that burned more than 1,300 acres of national forest land.
The settlement Monday was in connection with the so-called James Fire that began on April 29, 2007. The fire was caused when poorly maintained hardware on a power distribution line owned by Edison caused an electrical fault. The resulting molten material that dropped on the ground ignited dry vegetation.
"The settlement is a significant step toward compensating the public for the expense of fighting the fire and restoring the public lands," said U.S. Attorney Benjamin Wagner. "We will continue to aggressively pursue compensation from those who are responsible for wildfires that damage our precious national resources."
The fire was named because it began behind the James Sierra Gateway Market on Sierra Way.
It ultimately burned 1,350 acres, all but 30 of which were part of the Sequoia National Forest.
The money will be used for reforesting.
Southern California Edison denies liability for the fire.
"SCE believes that the settlement, in which the utility agreed to pay $1.8 million without admitting liability, represents an appropriate resolution of this dispute," the company stated in a release.