LAKE HUGHES ( — Residents affected by last year’s Powerhouse Fire near Santa Clarita are suing the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, claiming the utility is to blame for starting the blaze that destroyed dozens of homes.

The fire, which erupted May 31, 2013, burned 53 structures in all, including 24 homes.

Joe Viviano’s Lake Hughes residence was among the homes that were destructed.

“We lost everything. We had about 30 minutes to pack up…and all I had was a pickup truck. I stuffed as much in there as I could,” he said. “I just left, hoping I could come back to something.”

CBS2’s Amy Johnson reported that it’s still not clear exactly what started the blaze next to the LADWP’s Powerhouse 1.

An investigation is underway, but Viviano and more than 100 others believe the utility company failed to maintain the power lines and equipment is the culprit.

Viviano and his wife now live in a Palmdale rental. He doesn’t know if they’ll rebuild.

“We thought we would retire here,” he said. “We loved it up here because it was so nice and quiet…and you can smell the pine trees. And when it would rain, there would be great odors in the various trees and brush. It was like going camping every time I came back home from work.”

The LADWP released a statement in response to the lawsuit, which said, in part, “No final determination has been made regarding the cause of the fire…LADWP does not believe that equipment age was a factor in the cause of the fire.”

The DWP could receive the complaint as early as Friday. It will have 30 days to respond.


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