■ By Thomas D. Elias / Contributed California’s big utilities breathed easily in the early fall this year, relieved by a new state law that seemed to guarantee they would never go bankrupt over liabilities from fires caused by their equipment. But that relief lasted only until the Camp, Hill and Woolsey fires flared up spectacularly, destroying the Butte County town of Paradise and some surrounding areas, while many hundreds of homes burned in the Thousand Oaks and Malibu areas of Ventura and Los Angeles counties. For last summer’s utility bailout bill known as SB 901 contained what amounted to a donut hole noticed by few before it passed. The law
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