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Companies agree to settlement over lawsuit related to massive Santa Barbara County wildfire

The 2016 Rey Fire in Santa Barbara County burned more than 32,000 acres of land.
Ventura County Air Unit
The 2016 Rey Fire in Santa Barbara County burned more than 32,000 acres of land.

$22 million settlement reached over costs, damages from 2016 Rey Fire.

It was a massive wildfire which burned in Santa Barbara County for nearly a month. Now, some utility companies accused of accidentally starting the fire have agreed to pay $22 million to cover costs related to dealing with the huge blaze.

The August, 2016 Rey Fire charred thousands of acres of land southeast of Lake Cachuma. Federal prosecutors say a tree fell onto some power and communication lines owned by Southern California Edison, and Frontier Communications. They say the tree caused a malfunction with the lines, which sparked the blaze.

Fortunately, because it was in a remote area, no homes were lost.

Prosecutors filed suit against Edison, Frontier, and UTS, a company which handles vegetation management for utility companies, seeking reimbursement for costs and damages stemming from the fire. The companies agreed to the $22 million settlement without any admission of guilt, or wrongdoing.

Lance Orozco has been News Director of KCLU since 2001, providing award-winning coverage of some of the biggest news events in the region, including the Thomas and Woolsey brush fires, the deadly Montecito debris flow, the Borderline Bar and Grill attack, and Ronald Reagan's funeral.