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PG&E equipment sparked deadly California wildfire
16 May 2019, 05:58 | Glen Norman
Homes leveled by the Camp Fire line Valley Ridge Drive in Paradise California. AP
California fire officials have confirmed that the catastrophic Camp Fire a year ago was caused by power lines operated by Pacific Gas & Electric, which provides electricity to 16 million customers in California and is one of the largest utility companies in the United States.
The Camp Fire started on the morning of November 8, 2018, and burned for more than two weeks. It also completely destroyed the town of Paradise, burned a total of 153,336 acres, and destroyed 18,804 structures. Fueled by high winds and low humidity the Camp Fire ripped through the town of Paradise charring over 140,000 acres, killing at least 56 people and destroying over 8,500 homes and businesses.
The investigation also identified a second nearby ignition site involving vegetation and electrical distribution lines, also owned and operated by the San Francisco-based utility.
The suit alleges that the November 8 blaze started when electrical infrastructure owned, operated and maintained by PG&E failed, causing a spark that ignited the blaze.
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Cal Fire did not release its full investigative report, saying it had been forwarded to the Butte County district attorney's office, which is considering filing criminal charges against the utility.
Cal Fire's investigators found evidence that PG&E violated a tree-trimming law requiring adequate clearance between trees and power lines.
The utility, which filed for bankruptcy protection in January, had said in February it was "probable" that one of its transmission lines sparked the blaze. "PG&E remains committed to working together with our stakeholders to fairly and expeditiously resolve our liabilities resulting from the 2017 and 2018 Northern California wildfires, and to delivering safe and reliable service to our customers".
"It's nice to have a definite answer", Jones said, adding that she hopes the conclusion will help her city's legal case against the utility.
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