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California officials blame PG & E for the state's deadliest fire: NPR



Volunteer rescuers are looking for human remains in the walls of homes burned in Camp Fire in Paradise, California. Government officials say the fire was caused by PG & E power lines.

Terry Chea / AP


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Terry Chea / AP

Volunteer rescuers are looking for human remains in the walls of homes burned in Camp Fire in Paradise, California. Government officials say the fire was caused by PG & E power lines.

Terry Chea / AP

Electric transmission lines owned and operated by utility giant Pacific Gas and Electric (PG & E) caused last autumn's Camp Fire, the deadliest and most destructive fire in California's history, state fire investigators noted Wednesday.

Fire in Northern California's Butte County burned more than 1

50,000 acres and killed 85 people.

"After a very careful and thorough investigation, CAL FIRE has decided that the camp fire was caused by electrical transmission lines owned and operated by Pacific Gas and Electricity (PG & E) in the Pulga area" in Butte County, California said in a statement. The fire had two ignition sites, according to investigators, when the second fire in another part of the county was consumed by the first flame that started near Pulga.

The Cal Fire report has been forwarded to Butte County District Attorney Mike Ramsey.

The result was not unexpected. PG & E even pointed to its transmission lines and the dry vegetation around them as a possible culprit in a performance report issued in February.

"In addition to claims on property damage, business interruptions, interest and lawyer fees, the tool could be responsible for fuel suppression costs, evacuation costs, healthcare costs, personal injuries, penalties, and other damages under other theories of liability, including if the tool proved negligent," the company said.

Cal Fire announcement came the same day as PG & E's new CEO, Bill Johnson, testified before a state assembly committee.

"I've adopted when I came here that PG & E equipment caused the fire," he said quoted by The Associated Press. "It's disappointing that this happened. Let's not do it again."

In a statement released late on Wednesday, the tool said that while it has not been able to review Cal Fire's report, the finding of its obligation is "consistent with its earlier statements".

"We're still committed to working with government agencies and local communities to make our customers and California safer," said the statement.

PG & E filed for bankruptcy protection in January.

California Govin Newsom exploited "Everybody should be aware of PG & E's history of over two decades of mismanagement, maladministration, and unsuccessful efforts to improve a sorrowful security culture," said Newsom.


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