Left Menu
Development News Edition

UPDATE 3-PG&E lines blamed for deadliest wildfire in California history

Reuters | Updated: 16-05-2019 07:25 IST | Created: 16-05-2019 07:25 IST
UPDATE 3-PG&E lines blamed for deadliest wildfire in California history
State fire investigators have formally determined that Pacific Gas & Electric Co transmission lines caused the deadliest and most destructive wildfire on record in California, a blaze that killed 85 people last year, officials said on Wednesday. The wind-driven blaze, dubbed the Camp Fire, erupted in the drought-parched Sierra foothills 175 miles (280 km) north of San Francisco in November 2018 and raced with little warning through the town of Paradise, incinerating much of that community.

Nearly 19,000 homes and other structures were destroyed, and the death toll stands as the greatest loss of life from a single wildfire in California history. Several firefighters were injured. Investigators "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 California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (Cal Fire) said in a statement.

A second ignition point for the fire was also "determined to be vegetation into electrical distribution lines" owned and operated by the San Francisco-based utility, Cal Fire said. The statement gave no details as to precisely how the power lines triggered the flames, or whether investigators determined that PG&E was at fault for lapses in the maintenance of its equipment or vegetation clearance.

A Cal Fire spokesman, Scott McLean, declined to comment, saying the investigators' report was furnished to Butte County District Attorney Mike Ramsey for further review. "The investigation into how and why the PG&E transmission line equipment failed is ongoing in an effort to determine if PG&E or any of its personnel have any criminal liability," Ramsey said in a separate statement.

He said the fact that a PG&E equipment malfunction sparked the fire "had been, essentially, admitted" by the utility in a December 2018 report to state regulators. PG&E said it had not been able to review the Cal Fire report but accepted investigators' findings about the fire's origin near the Pulga area. It added: "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."

Cal Fire concluded last June that PG&E-owned power lines had sparked a separate series of wildfires that swept Northern California's wine country in 2017, and found a number of unspecified code violations alleged in several of the blazes it examined. But prosecutors from four affected counties later determined there was no basis to criminally charge the utility in connection with the so-called North Bay fires. PG&E filed for bankruptcy in January 2019, citing potential civil liabilities in excess of $30 billion from the North Bay and Camp Fires.

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. Shares of PG&E initially fell 3.1 percent in after-hours trading following release of the Cal Fire statement. The stock later recovered and was trading at 0.2 percent above the closing price of $18.10 a share. (Reporting by Steve Gorman in Los Angeles and Mekhla Raina in Bengaluru; Editing by Leslie Adler, Peter Cooney and Sonya Hepinstall)



‘Discounted Deaths’ and COVID 19: Anthropology of Death and Emotions

Death is a social event rather than the mere cessation of biological functions. As seen by anthropologists, death is not just physical but intensely social, cultural, and political....

Indigenous knowledge of communities a must for maximizing impact of community work

Generally, it has been observed that the majority of the academicians in higher education institutions neglect the wisdom of community people and throw their weight around thinking that they know everything and the community knows nothing. ...

In rebuking FBR, Pakistan’s courts take a stand for public health

The system, if implemented effectively, will allow Pakistans revenue service to combat the illicit trade in tobacco products and potentially add hundreds of millions of dollars to the states budget each year. ...

Dissecting how COVID-19 is catalyzing the trajectory of New World Order

The ensuing pandemic of COVID-19 has hit the globalization in two ways firstly, shrinking the importance of globalization as an economic force by curtailing mobility through worldwide lockdowns, and secondly, rejuvenating the idea of indig...


Latest News

4 new cases of COVID-19 reported in Assam: State Health Minister

Four new cases of COVID-19 have been reported in Assam, as per information provided by the State Health Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma.According to the Health Minister, the total number of COVID-19 cases in the state has reached 686, includin...

ICC Board Meeting: World T20 to be postponed to 2022, October window for IPL

The postponement of this years T20 World Cup in Australia to 2022, which might open up a window for the lucrative Indian Premier League in October, is expected to be formalised when the International Cricket Councils all-powerful board hold...

We will have new world after COVID-19, balance of power between China and US will change: Rahul Gandhi

Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on Wednesday said he feels that we will have a new world after this virus and balance of power between China and the United States will change post-COVID-19. During an interaction with Ashish Jha, Director Harva...

Venezuela's apparent respite from COVID may not last long

Defying dire predictions, Venezuela so far seems to have avoided the coronavirus wave striking much of South America. But experts warn that while the virus may have been slow to spread here, due in large part to Venezuelas isolation, the nu...

Give Feedback