After a thorough investigation, the Ventura County Fire Department (VCFD) has determined that the Koenigstein Fire, which began on the evening of December 4, 2017, was caused when a single energized conductor separated near an insulator on a power pole. The energized conductor fell to the ground along with molten metal particles and ignited the dry vegetation below. A local resident witnessed sparks falling from the power pole, starting a fire on the ground, and then called 911 to report it to authorities.
The Koenigstein Fire started 3.5 miles northwest in Upper Ojai, approximately one hour after the initial start of the Thomas Fire. Both fires started on the same electrical circuit. Hours later, the Koenigstein Fire merged with the Thomas Fire and collectively became known as the Thomas Fire.
In total, the Thomas Fire burned for nearly 40 days, threatening the cities of Santa Paula, Ventura, Ojai and Fillmore, as well as many unincorporated communities, before moving into Santa Barbara County. It was declared 100 percent controlled on January 12, 2018. At one point, nearly 9,000 emergency personnel were working the fire. Firefighters and emergency responders came from across the western United States to help.
VCFD investigators were dispatched with initial attack resources to the wildfire and immediately began working to determine its origin and cause in conjunction with CAL FIRE and the Ventura County Sheriff’s Office.
For more information on how to be prepared for wildfires, visit www.VCReadySetGo.org.