PG&E says cause of Camp Fire not yet
determined despite probe
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[December 12, 2018]
By Dan Whitcomb
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - The Pacific Gas and
Electric Company (PG&E) released a new report on Tuesday into a massive
California wildfire that ignited near one of its damaged towers,
offering new details of the incident but stopping short of accepting
The Camp Fire broke out on the morning of Nov. 8 near the Northern
California mountain community of Paradise, sweeping through the town and
killing 86 people in the deadliest and most destructive wildfire in
The Butte County Sheriff's Office announced late on Tuesday that a man
who was severely burned while trying to put out the fire that engulfed
his car had died from his injuries.
The cause of the blaze has remained officially under investigation for
more than a month, though suspicions turned to PG&E within days of the
outbreak when the utility reported to regulators that it experienced
equipment problems near the origin of the fire around the time it began.
In its supplemental report to the California Public Utilities
Commission, PG&E says that one of its transmission lines suffered an
outage at about 6:15 a.m. PST (1300 GMT), and 15 minutes later an
employee saw a fire near the tower.
The subsequent investigation discovered a broken piece of equipment and
a "flash mark" on a transmission line tower.
"These incidents remain under investigation and this information is
preliminary," PG&E said in the report.
"The causes may not be fully understood until additional information is
available, including information that can only be obtained through
examination and testing of the equipment retained by (the California
Department of Forestry and Fire Protection)," the utility said, adding
that it was cooperating in that investigation.
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PG&E works on power lines to repair damage caused by the Camp Fire
in Paradise, California, U.S. November 21, 2018. REUTERS/Elijah
The first lawsuit on behalf of victims was filed against PG&E on
Nov. 14, accusing the company of negligence and health and safety
The lawsuit specifically cited an alleged decision by the utility
not to proceed with plans to shut down its power lines as a
precaution due to high winds in the forecast just before the blaze
The utility's stock value plunged after PG&E warned investors last
month that it could face liability in excess of its insurance
coverage if its equipment were found to have sparked the Camp Fire.
Three people remain missing from the conflagration, which was fully
contained on Nov. 25 after nearly obliterating the town of Paradise,
located about 175 miles (280 km) north of San Francisco and home to
roughly 27,000 people.
(Reporting by Dan Whitcomb in Los Angeles; Additional reporting by
Steve Gorman and Rich McKay; Editing by Christian Schmollinger)
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