Deadly California Camp Fire caused by power lines

Homes leveled by the Camp Fire line Valley Ridge Drive in Paradise California

While Cal Fire placed blame on PG&E, the state's brief press release failed to answer the most important question - whether the utility acted negligently in maintaining the power line that sparked the blaze, said Paul Patterson, an analyst with Glenrock Associates.

PG&E has already disclosed that a criminal grand jury in Butte County is investigating the Camp Fire and has requested documents related to its operations and maintenance.

The Camp Fire started the morning of November 8, 2018, and burned a total of 153,336 acres, destroying 18,804 structures and resulting in 85 deaths and several firefighter injuries.

The deadly wildfire that all but destroyed several small towns in California previous year was caused by PG&E power lines, Cal Fire investigators have concluded.

The investigation also identified a second nearby ignition site involving vegetation and electrical distribution lines, also owned and operated by the San Francisco-based utility.

A combination of tinder dry vegetation and Red Flag conditions of strong winds, low humidity and warm temperatures strengthened the fire and caused extreme rates of spread, Cal Fire said.

A Cal Fire spokeswoman said the investigators' report had been furnished to the Butte County District Attorney's Office for further review. That blaze was overrun by the fire originating in Pulga, officials said.

PG&E filed Chapter 11 in January, listing more than $51 billion in debts. The fire is now at 40 percent containment.

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"We remain committed to working together with state agencies and local communities to make our customers and California safer". It became the most destructive and deadliest wildfire in the recorded history of California.

Its reorganization plan is due by the end of May, but the utility has requested an extension until November.

California faced 7,571 wildfires in 2018 alone.

Last month, PG&E named William Johnson - previously the CEO of the Tennessee Valley Authority - as its CEO.

Almost 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.

The company faces dozens of lawsuits from Camp Fire victims and billions of dollars in potential liabilities.

"The first thing that I'm going to do is bring an intense focus back to the fundamentals of operating a utility system", Johnson said.

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