More Evidence Points Toward Utility Company In Deadly California Fire

Jason Hopkins | Energy Investigator

There is mounting evidence suggesting Pacific Gas & Electric was responsible for a deadly California wildfire that killed 86 people, but the investigation is still ongoing.

In a filing with California regulators, Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) offered more details on what happened with the failure of their transmission equipment in an area where Camp Fire began. The company acknowledged in a letter to state regulators that one of their volt lines lost power and that a utility employee observed a fire in the “vicinity” of the tower that was holding up that part of the line.

Furthermore, an inspection discovered a broken hook that was meant to hold an insulator connected to the transmission line.

“These incidents remain under investigation, and this information is preliminary,” wrote Meredith Allen, a senior director with PG&E, wrote in its Tuesday letter to the California Public Utilities Commission. “The cause of these incidents has not been determined and may not be fully understood until additional information becomes available, including information that can only be obtained through examination and testing of the equipment retained by CAL FIRE. PG&E is cooperating with CAL FIRE.” (RELATED: Blaming California Wildfires On Global Warming ‘Has Little Grounding In Fact,’ Scientist Says)

Investigators have not officially determined the cause of Camp Fire, but the filing is not a good development for the utility company. Under California insurance law, PG&E would be held financially responsible if it’s found that it started the deadly fire, even if didn’t violate any safety regulations.

Now completely contained, Camp Fire destroyed nearly 19,000 buildings and killed 86 people when it burned for weeks in northern California. Much blame has been passed around on the cause of the fire, with some citing climate change and the Trump administration faulting state leaders for, what they claim, is overseeing poor forest management.

Firemen extinguish burning cars set afire by protesters wearing yellow vests, a symbol of a French drivers' protest against higher diesel fuel taxes, during clashes near the Place de l'Etoile in Paris

Firemen extinguish burning cars set afire by protesters wearing yellow vests, a symbol of a French drivers’ protest against higher diesel fuel taxes, during clashes near the Place de l’Etoile in Paris, France, December 1, 2018. REUTERS/Stephane Mahe.

However, mounting evidence is pointing towards faulty PG&E equipment as the culprit. The developments have led investors to get skittish over the company’s prospects, with its stock price plummeting in recent time.

While the utility company may ultimately experience structural changes, the chairman of the California Public Utilities Commission assured investors that the PG&E would not go bankrupt.

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