PG&E says its equipment may have started Camp fire in California

Elias Hubbard
March 1, 2019

PG&E works on power lines to fix damage caused by the Camp Fire in Paradise, California, U.S. November 21, 2018.

The company filed for bankruptcy protection in January in anticipation of liabilities from the wildfires, including the catastrophic 2018 Camp Fire that killed 86 people.

The cause of the fire, the deadliest in California history, is still under investigation.

The company faces billions of dollars in possible liabilities and almost two dozen lawsuits from victims of the Camp Fire, including allegations of poor equipment maintenance.

California's Attorney General Xavier Becerra said in a court filing in December that PG&E could face criminal charges - including failing to keep power lines clear of trees or vegetation, recklessly starting a forest fire and murder - if the state finds the utility liable in any of the recent deadly wildfires, The Los Angeles Times reported.

PG&E's interim CEO, John Simon, said the company recognizes that more must be done to address the increasing threat of wildfires and keep communities safe.

The Wall Street Journal earlier in the day reported that the company had told federal regulators in 2013 it planned to replace numerous towers, wires and hardware pieces on the line.

PG&E also recorded a new $1 billion charge related to 2017 wildfires in Northern California.

Citing extraordinary challenges from wildfires, PG&E's management concluded the circumstances 'raise substantial doubt about PG&E Corporation's and the Utility's ability to continue as going concerns'.

PG&E also said there was an outage and downed wires in another location, called Big Bend, on the morning of the Camp Fire. The transmission line is considered to be associated with the 2018 Camp Fire.

Subsequent inspections of this transmission line identified equipment that should have been repaired or replaced, the company said.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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