Last phone company reaches tentative settlement in 2007 Malibu fire

Crown Castle Communications, formerly known as NextG Communications, reached a tentative settlement with the State of California Tuesday regarding its culpability in the 2007 Malibu Canyon fire, according to court documents obtained by The Malibu Times. The amount of the settlement has yet to be released. 

Crown Castle is the final of four cellphone companies involved in a lawsuit brought on by the state in the aftermath of the devastating wildfire that began on Oct. 21, 2007, when three power poles alongside Malibu Canyon Road snapped during high Santa Ana winds and ignited nearby brush. The fire burned 3,836 acres, destroyed 36 vehicles and 14 structures, damaged 19 others and injured three firefighters. 

The terms of the deal will have to be reviewed by the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC), which is believed to mean a delay in the trial of Southern California Edison for its involvement in the 2007 fire. The remaining case against Edison cannot continue until the CPUC votes on the partial settlement with Crown Castle, removing them as a defendant in the case. 

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That trial was set to begin next Monday, but could now be delayed seven or eight months while the CPUC reviews the Crown Castle agreement. 

Edison is the sole remaining defendant in the suit now. Verizon, AT&T and Sprint reached agreements with the state last September. Each company paid $4 million in their settlements. 

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The Malibu Times is the first newspaper in Malibu, serving the community since 1946.

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