SYLMAR (CBSLA) — As the deadly and devastating Saddle Ridge fire continued to burn in several communities, so did the question of what started the fire.

Police investigate the ground around the electrical transmission line tower Friday night. (CBSLA)

Donna Porco, who lives on Saddle Ridge Road, said she noticed the fire when it first broke out around 9:30 p.m. Thursday. She said she saw an electrical tower behind her home on fire by the time she went outside, but she said her neighbors believe they saw where the fire started.

“He and his wife saw that the brush underneath that tower was on fire, and the wind was blowing so hard, it just took off,” she said.

While there were planned power outages by Pacific Gas and Electric and Southern California Edison across the state in anticipation of a strong Santa Ana wind event, Porco said the power in her neighborhood — run by the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power — stayed on.

“We didn’t get any messages from DWP,” she said. “And, to be honest, I was selfishly relieved that we weren’t going to lose power.”

Porco said she and her neighbors were left wondering whether their power should have been turned off and whether that would have prevented the widespread fire.

On Friday night, investigators were out with flashlights looking at the base of the tower, though authorities said they were still unsure whether the fire started due to the electrical lines or for some other reason.

“Our arson investigators have interviewed, we believe that witness, but certainly someone else who said something similar,” Fire Chief Ralph Terrazas said. “So we are following all leads, but we still don’t have a determination.”

Mayor Eric Garcetti was asked whether DWP considered turning off any power during the planned outages.

“We don’t know if those are Edison lines or DWP lines, but we will always assess that,” he said. “But it was the determination of the department that we did not need to have proactive mass outages.”

The investigation into what sparked the deadly blaze is ongoing.


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