Southern California has been ravaged by the massive Woolsey Fire (also known as the Malibu Fire) which began around 2 pm on November 8th between Simi Valley and Chatsworth and scorched its way across more than 97,000 acres in a matter of days. The California wildfire was first reported two minutes after an outage occurred at Southern California Edison’s Chatsworth substation. Southern California Edison’s role in the fire is currently under investigation. This comes at the same time that the Pacific Gas & Electric Company (PG&E) is being investigated for its role in the deadly Camp Fire in Northern California. Some of our staff and lawyers were evacuated during the Woolsey Fire and have been volunteering aid to friends and neighbors in their communities.
Our lawyers are representing wildfire victims in lawsuits against the entities responsible for causing the fire. We are helping clients prepare insurance and FEMA claims forms at no cost. If an insurance payment, satisfactory to you, is achieved without the need for litigation, then there will be no attorneys’ fees charged against that payment. However, in the event your property insurance claims become disputed and require mediation, arbitration or litigation, we will represent you for a contingent fee.
How Much Damage has the Woolsey Fire Caused?
The fires affected these areas:
- Agoura Hills
- Bell Canyon
- Hidden Hills
- Newbury Park
- Oak Park
- Simi Valley
- Thousand Oaks
- Westlake Village
- West Hills
- and others in Ventura and Los Angeles counties
Woolsey Fire Map
Woolsey fire evacuations displaced people in neighboring areas as well, forcing more than 250,000 people to flee their homes in Los Angeles and Ventura counties.
Several people died in the Malibu fire, including two victims who were found in a car at Mullholland Highway. It appears they were attempting to flee the fire before being overcome by flames. On Wednesday November 14, authorities confirmed the discovery of another body in a badly burned home in the 32000 block of Lobo Canyon Road Agoura Hills.
The damage to homes and property has been substantial, with hundreds of houses destroyed, 83% of National Parks Service land in the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreational Area burned, and more than 150 square miles of fire damage.
Woolsey Fire Updates
Dec. 3, 2018
Size: 96,949 acres
Full Containment Date: 11/22/2018
Reported Fatalities: 3
Reported Injuries: 3
Structures Destroyed: 1,500
Structures Damaged: 341
In Malibu, at least 670 structures were destroyed in the Woolsey Fire, including more than 400 single-family homes with an estimated market value of $1.6 billion. According to Zillow, the median market value of the homes destroyed in Malibu is about $3.47 million.
Evacuations – Please check this map for the latest updates.
The U.S. Geological Survey created this map showing areas that are at risk for mudslides.
How did the Woolsey Fire Start?
What exactly started the Woolsey fire is unknown, but CAL Fire (the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection) has already begun investigating Southern California Edison for their role in the blaze. The company reported an outage at its Chatsworth substation at 2:22 pm on November 8, 2018. That report of a circuit disturbance came only two minutes prior to the first sightings of the Woolsey Canyon fire at the same address.
If Southern California Edison’s equipment is found responsible for causing the fire, California law requires the utility to pay for all of the damages caused by the fire, this includes lost homes, businesses, and property, as well as medical bills arising from any injuries and potentially significant amounts to the families of those who lost loved ones. If the company is found to have started the fire because of negligence, instead of faulty equipment, the company can be forced to pay additional damages.
Woolsey fire victims have multiple options to pursue compensation for losses. Those with a homeowner’s insurance policy that covers wildfires can file an insurance claim to repair, rebuild or replace their home and property. Victims may also choose to file a claim for relief with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). Very often, however, the only way a victim of the fire can recover for all the losses and harms suffered is through a lawsuit against the entities responsible for causing the fire. Such lawsuits are separate from FEMA and insurance relief and can take place even if you don’t have insurance coverage.
Southern California Edison has Played a Part of Multiple California Wildfires
In December 2017, the Thomas Fire raged across Southern California, killing two, destroying over 1062 structures, including more than 700 homes, burning upwards of 280,000 acres, and triggering the Montecito mudslide that would kill an additional 21 people. Southern California Edison later admitted that its equipment was associated with at least one of the two ignition points for the fire and currently faces multiple lawsuits over their actions in causing the wildfire.
In October 2007, the Malibu Fire destroyed 14 structures and burned 3,800 acres before it was contained. Southern California Edison (SCE) later admitted fault for allowing their power lines to be overloaded despite an assessment warning of that exact outcome. SCE eventually settled the lawsuit brought against them by the California Public Utilities Commission for $37 million.
California Wildfire Attorneys Work to Get Justice for Those Harmed by Preventable Fires
The experienced attorneys at Baum Hedlund Law have teamed up with renowned environmental attorney, Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., Malibu-resident and respected trial lawyer, Brian Strange, and fire experts Michael Vergon and James Finneran to further investigate Southern California Edison’s part in the Ventura and Los Angeles fire.
Diane Marger Moore of Baum Hedlund Law is one of the most experienced fire trial lawyers in the country. She is a Board Certified trial attorney with decades of experience in fire lawsuits stemming from her time as Chief Deputy Arson Prosecutor. Her previous experience as both a criminal prosecutor and civil fire defense attorney gives her unique insight into the many ways companies like Southern California Edison try to slither away from responsibility.
In the past, Southern California Edison has been fined heavily for lying, misrepresenting evidence, and even destroying evidence related to its role in the 2007 Malibu Fire. It was also fined over similar issues after a 2011 Santa Ana windstorm left over 400,000 people without power. Due to their reputation for chopping up utility poles and equipment to avoid conclusive findings of fault, it is easy to see why an experienced fire lawyer like Mrs. Marger Moore is needed to hold such a company accountable in a California fire lawsuit concerning the defective equipment or negligence.
Similarly, Ronald Goldman of Baum Hedlund Law has extensive experience dealing with complex personal injury and wrongful death cases related to negligent companies. Both Mr. Goldman and Diane Marger Moore are board certified by the National Board of Trial Advocacy. Also part of our team of California fire attorneys dedicated to holding all the responsible parties accountable for starting devastating fires, is Michael Baum, the firm’s managing partner. Michael first litigated fire cases in 1987, when we was on the team that represented many of the guests who died in the Dupont Plaza Hotel fire in Puerto Rico, one of the deadliest hotel fires in U.S. history. Over the past 30+ years, Michael has successfully led the firm through thousands of wrongful death and personal injury cases. Cara J. Luther, an attorney with 30 years of experience handling catastrophic cases, worked for the insurance industry before becoming a lawyer. She is assisting our clients with insurance matters.
Los Angeles trial attorney Brian R. Strange of Strange & Butler, is working with Baum Hedlund on the Woolsey Fire litigation. He lives in the burn area of Malibu and has first hand knowledge of the devastation there. Brian has a stellar reputation as class action and complex business trial lawyer.
Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., named one of Time magazine’s “Heroes for the Planet,” is also working with the Baum Hedlund team handling the California wildfire cases. Mr. Kennedy is a renowned environmental lawyer, also working with Baum Hedlund on the Monsanto Roundup herbicide litigation and the SoCalGas Porter Ranch cases.
Fire Causation Experts
Baum Hedlund has hired two nationally known fire causation experts to help investigate the cause of the Woolsey Fire and Camp Fire on behalf of the firm’s clients. Before moving into private practice, Michael A. Vergon worked for 24 years as a Special Agent for the U.S. Department of Justice Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco Firearms and Explosive (ATF). During his last 15 years at the ATF, Mike earned his certification as a Certified Fire Investigator, working as a Senior Special Agent. James M. Finneran is a Certified Fire Investigator and a Certified Fire and Explosion Investigator with over 35 years of experience in determining the cause of fires, electrical evaluations and product failure analysis.
If you lost a home, were injured, or had a loved one perish in a California wildfire, contact the Los Angeles law firm of Baum Hedlund or call us at 310-207-3233 to speak with a California wildfire lawyer today.
Resources for Victims of the Woolsey Fire
Assistance for Evacuees:
Animal assistance — housing/care/lost pets:
Ways to Help
Make a Donation:
Become a Volunteer: