Bankruptcy-bound Pacific Gas and Electric Co.’s (PG&E) transmission line caused last November’s Camp Fire, the deadliest and most destructive wildfire in California’s history, the state Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CalFire) said Wednesday.
CalFire identified a primary site near Pulga in Butte County where a PG&E transmission line allegedly came in contact with dry vegetation, and it found a second ignition site near the intersection of Concow and Rim Roads where a PG&E distribution line allegedly fell into vegetation. The second fire was consumed by the original fire near Pulga, CalFire determined.
The Camp Fire burned 153,336 acres, destroying 18,804 structures, killing 85 people and injuring several firefighters. The investigative report has been forwarded to Butte County District Attorney Mike Ramsey.
PG&E spokesperson Matt Nauman said the combination utility had not yet reviewed the report but it accepted the determination. “We have not been able to form a conclusion as to whether a second fire ignited as a result of vegetation contact” with PG&E “electrical distribution lines, as CalFire also determined.”
Management is “fully cooperating with all ongoing investigations concerning the Camp Fire,” and Nauman reiterated the utility’s commitment to work with state agencies and local communities to implement the San Francisco-based operator’s community wildfire safety program.
In February, PG&E acknowledged that its Caribou-Palermo transmission line, which runs 56 miles and which remains out of service, was the suspected cause. Parent PG&E Corp. has booked an estimated $14 billion from Northern California fires.
Last year, CalFire recorded more than 7,571 wildfires that consumed more than 1.8 million acres.
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