Getty Fire Caused by Tree Branch Falling Onto Power Lines, Fire Department Says

By GQ Pan

The Getty Fire in Los Angeles was caused by a tree branch that fell onto power lines, causing them to spark and start the massive fire that has ravaged through more than 650 acres of land, authorities said.

“The fire was deemed an accidental start, caused by a tree branch that broke off and subsequently landed in nearby power lines during high wind conditions,” the Los Angeles Fire Department (LAFD) said in a statement on Oct. 29. “This errant tree branch caused the sparking and arcing of the power lines, igniting nearby brush.”

NTD Photo
The Getty Fire is believed to have been sparked when a tree branch was blown into a power line. (Los Angeles Fire Department)

The LAFD added that there is no evidence of arson or an intentionally set fire, and there is no evidence of a homeless encampment in the fire’s area of origin. Investigators are working to determine the ownership of the land occupied by the tree.

During a news conference on Tuesday afternoon, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said the fire has destroyed 12 homes and partially damaged five others.

Garcetti said 1,165 personnel have been assigned to battle the fire. No injuries or fatalities to civilians or firefighters have been reported.

The LAFD also released dashcam footage that is believed to capture the moment the fire started. In the video, a bright flash of light can be seen on the side of the road in Sepulveda Pass, followed by what appears to be heavy smoke.

Garcetti and LAFD Chief Ralph Terrazas said they both viewed the footage. “That’s the moment we believe this fire began,” Garcetti said.

In Northern California, the Kincade Fire has burned more than 100 square miles—almost twice the size of San Francisco. The official cause of the Kincade Fire has yet to be determined, but it may have been started by a Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) high-voltage transmission line that malfunctioned, the company admitted last week in a report to California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC). It also admitted that it failed to notify around 23,000 customers of the preventative public safety power shutoffs (PSPS) issued following the outage.

CPUC launched a formal investigation this Monday into PG&E’s power shutoffs.

“The state cannot continue to experience PSPS events on the scope and scale Californians have experienced this month, nor should Californians be subject to the poor execution that PG&E in particular has exhibited,” CPUC commission President Marybel Batjer said in a statement.

“Through the actions announced today, as well as other steps under our regulatory purview, the CPUC will demand that utilities prepare for and execute PSPS events in a way that greatly reduces impacts on Californians,” she said.