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Based on the thought of stage treatment, a new method using genetic algorithm (GA) was proposed to fault location. Firstly, the entire distribution network is divided into a main branch and a number of independent regions by making use of the radiation-like characteristic of distribution network. Then, the information of fault current is used to found out fault independent region. Finally, genetic algorithm is applied to locate faults for the main branch and fault regions. So, the dimension of feasible solution can be reduced largely and the location speed can be enhanced. In the simulation experiments of fault location by this method for a distribution network system, the results show that the location method is fast and accurate to locate faults. It is especially effectual in fault location for complicated distribution network and has the potential for online applications.