Unsurprisingly, Cal Fire Determines PG&E Caused Deadly Camp Fire

The Camp Fire, which left more than 85 people dead, is the deadliest and most destructive wildfire in California's history.

PG&E crews work to replace telephone poles that were burned by the Camp Fire on Billie Road in the town of Paradise in Butte County on Saturday, Nov. 17, 2018, more than a week after the fire broke out. (Photo by Kevin N. Hume)

Seven months after the Camp Fire leveled Paradise and left 85 people dead, a Cal Fire investigation found on Wednesday that PG&E was, once again, the cause.

Butte County’s Paradise awoke to a blaze that would ultimately kill 85 people, injure several firefighters, and burn 18,804 structures across more than 150,000 acres. The fire was sparked in the early morning of Nov. 8 by PG&E equipment, according to Cal Fire.

“After a very meticulous and thorough investigation, Cal Fire has determined that the Camp Fire was caused by electrical transmission lines owned and operated by Pacific Gas and Electricity located in the Pulga area,” Cal Fire wrote in a statement on Wednesday.

The Camp Fire is California’s deadliest and most destructive wildfire to date. Vegetation was dry, winds were strong, the humidity was low, and the temperature was warm enough to spread the fire far and fast from Pulga. Cal Fire also determined that vegetation on PG&E lines caused the second ignition site near the intersection of Concow and Rim roads.

PG&E admitted as much in November, acknowledging that this conclusion was likely.

Still, to say it’s on thin ice is an understatement. Cal Fire already determined that the utility caused 12 files in Northern California during the October 2017 fire season. PG&E is also facing several lawsuits as victims struggle to recover and filed for bankruptcy in January.

San Francisco isn’t waiting around to see what PG&E’s fate is, or future fate could be as wildfires intensify. Officials are seriously exploring a takeover of PG&E equipment in the city to run a public utility, rather than a shareholder-owned one.  

 

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