BUTTE COUNTY, Calif. – The cause of the nation’s deadliest wildfire in a century has been determined.
The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CAL FIRE) said after months of investigation, they found Pacific Gas and Electric Company equipment is at fault, which was expected by the California utility company.
On November 8, the Camp Fire burned more than 153,000 acres and killed dozens of people as it rapidly spread across Butte County, devastating the community of Paradise in the process.
Many had already suspected the fire was sparked by malfunctioning electrical equipment owned by the Pacific Gas and Electric Company. On February 28, 2019, PG&E released a statement saying they believe it is “probable” their equipment will be determined to be an ignition point of the Camp Fire. An official determination has not been made.
According to PG&E, several pieces of evidence led to their conclusion, including reports regarding a malfunctioning transmission line in the area where the fire started.
The company said they’ve increased inspections in high-risk areas and have completed about two-thirds of their survey.
“We recognize that more must be done to adapt to and address the increasing threat of wildfires and extreme weather in order to keep our customers and communities safe,” said John Simon, Interim Chief Executive Officer of PG&E Corporation. “We are taking action now on important safety and maintenance measures identified through our accelerated and enhanced safety inspections and will continue to keep our regulators, customers and investors informed of our efforts.”
On May 15, CNBC reported that CAL FIRE determined the Camp Fire was, in fact, caused by electrical transmission lines owned by PG&E, just as the utility company had suspected.
A number of lawsuits have been filed against PG&E in the aftermath of the fire. The majority address “misleading” ads promoting the company’s concern for safety.
The litigation is ongoing.