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Fire that ravaged California town last fall was caused by power lines

Fire that ravaged California town last fall was caused by power lines

Cal Fire said Wednesday the lines in the Pulga area ignited the November 8 fire that killed 85 people in Paradise. The second fire was quickly consumed by the initial fire.

The fire investigation report has been forwarded to the Butte County District Attorney, the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, also known as CAL FIRE, said in a press release Wednesday.

An investigation into the cause of the fire began nearly immediately, with suspicion soon falling on power equipment operated by Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E). Bill Johnson told the state Assembly Utilities and Energy Committee he had expected the utility would be blamed for the fire.

Cal Fire deputy director of communications Michael Mohler said Wednesday that he hasn't read the report and doesn't know the nature of the violations.

The utility company filed for bankruptcy in January to protect itself against billions of dollars in lawsuits. But prosecutors from four affected counties later determined there was no basis to criminally charge the utility in connection with the so-called North Bay fires. PG&E has estimated its total liability from the Paradise fire and 2017 wildfires could top $30 billion. He said ahead of the 2019 fire season the company is visually inspecting tens of thousands of miles of equipment in high-fire danger areas and clearing vegetation in those areas. Strong wind gusts blew hot embers a mile or more, creating multiple fires.

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The utility previously acknowledged that the Caribou-Palermo transmission line lost power right before the fire and was later found to be damaged.

Paradise Mayor Jody Jones says she is not surprised to hear Pacific Gas & Electric Co. power lines sparked a November blaze that killed 85 people in her town and she hopes the findings help its legal case against the utility.

"It's nice to have a definite answer", Jones said.

CAL Fire investigators have released details determining the official cause of the deadliest and most destructive wildfire in California's history as fires sparking from two ignition points.

PG&E's extension request "reflects no sense of urgency in addressing the serious problems and issues confronting" the company, Newsom's office writes in a brief it plans to file Wednesday. The cause of the second fire was vegetation into electrical distribution lines also owned by PG&E.