U.S. Forest Service Investigation OngoingBy CBSLA Staff

LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — The Bobcat Fire, which has burned 115,796 acres in the Angeles National Forest, may have been caused by vegetation coming into contact with a Southern California Edison overhead conductor, the company said Monday in a letter to the California Public Utilities Commission.

U.S. Forest Service investigators have yet to discuss the details of the investigation with SCE, but the company told regulators that the overhead conductor and tree branches in the area had been retained in connection with the investigation.

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“SCE is investigating the cause of the ignition and the 12:16 p.m. relay on its system, and evaluating whether vegetation in the area could have been a factor, including whether vegetation may have encroached within the minimum clearance distance or contacted the section of the overhead conductor retained by USFS,” the company said.

The fire was initially reported near Cogswell Dam in the Angeles National Forest at 12:21 p.m. Sept. 6. According to SCE, a section of its Jarvis 12 kV circuit in the area experienced a relay operation at 12:16 p.m. A camera at Mount Wilson captured smoke in the area as early as 12:10 p.m.

On Sept. 16, SCE removed a 23-foot-long line of the conductor for USFS to use in its investigation into the blaze.

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“SCE personnel were permitted into the subject area and removed an approximate 23-foot section of 1/0 ACSR conductor (south phase) that was situated between an H-Frame structure comprised of Pole Nos. 4786005E and 4786004E, which had been significantly damaged in the fire and was no longer erect, and another H-Frame structure comprised of Pole Nos. 2127468E and 1583439E,” SCE said in the letter.

The blaze has destroyed 171 structures, including 87 residences, and has damaged another 47. The Nature Center at the Devil’s Punchbowl Natural Area was also destroyed.

All evacuation orders have been canceled and most roads have been reopened, with the exception of Big Santa Anita Road. As of Sunday, the fire’s containment reached 92% with more than 300 firefighters continuing to work the blaze. Full containment is not expected until Oct. 30.

The cost of fighting the fire has not yet been determined.

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(© Copyright 2020 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. City News Service contributed to this report.)