PG&E lines blamed for deadliest wildfire in California history


- Electrical transmission lines owned and operated by Pacific Gas and Electricity caused the deadly Camp Fire in Butte County, an investigation concludes. The tinder dry vegetation and Red Flag conditions consisting of strong winds, low humidity and warm temperatures promoted this fire and caused extreme rates of spread, rapidly burning into Pulga to the east and west into Concow, Paradise, Magalia and the outskirts of east Chico.

A report released Wednesday confirms PG&E transmission lines ignited the devastating fire.

Cal Fire deputy director of communications Michael Mohler said Wednesday that he hasn't read the report and doesn't know the nature of the violations. He said ahead of the 2019 fire season the company is visually inspecting tens of thousands of miles of equipment in high-fire danger areas and clearing vegetation in those areas.

Cal Fire's investigators found evidence that PG&E violated a tree-trimming law requiring adequate clearance between trees and power lines.

Cal Fire "has determined that the Camp Fire was caused by electrical transmission lines owned and operated" by PG&E near the small riverfront community of Pulga, about 10 miles (16 km) northeast of Paradise in Butte County, the agency said in a statement.

Jones says "it's nice to have a definite answer" about the cause of the blaze that decimated the town.

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About 15,000 homes and another 4,000 structures were destroyed, and the death toll stands as the greatest loss of life from a single wildfire in California history.

The company remains under criminal probation from its conviction for a deadly 2010 natural gas pipeline explosion near San Francisco and is a defendant in numerous private civil cases stemming from wildfires.

The company has requested a November extension to continue its reorganization plan.

The investigation identified a second ignition sight near the intersection of Concow Road and Rim Road.

PG&E had already admitted it was likely to blame, and filed for protective bankruptcy in January to shield itself against billions of dollars in fire-related liability lawsuits.

The news came as PG&E CEO William "Bill" Johnson testified before the state Assembly Utilities and Energy Committee in Sacramento on Wednesday, where he faced questions and comments from elected officials.