(CNN) A California utility company said its crews found a damaged transmission tower and holes in a power pole at separate locations near the site where the Camp Fire started. More than a month after the deadliest and most destructive wildfire in the state’s history broke out, Pacific Gas & Electric Co. released a more detailed account of outages it experienced that day. In a letter to the California Public Utilities Commission, PG&E said one of its employees called 911 on November 8 — the day the deadly wildfire began — after spotting flames in the vicinity of a high-voltage tower near the town of Pulga in Butte County. That fire was reported almost 15 minutes after the utility experienced a transmission line outage at the same location, the company said. It was also around the same time the Camp Fire broke out.
Principles for Utility Regulation in the Face of Increasing Wildfire Risk
Catherine J.K. Sandoval
Catherine J.K. Sandoval is an associate professor at Santa Clara University School of Law and a former commissioner of the California Public Utilities Commission. Views are her own.
As our state faces the present consequences of climate change, years of drought, and devastating wildfires, it is our legal and ethical duty to consider new approaches to manage utility infrastructure. Utility poles that line our streets and highways tether our homes, businesses, and schools to electricity, telecommunications, and Internet service that powers our economy and way of life. Yet, violations of California’s utility pole safety rules too often linger in plain sight for months, if not years. The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) is charged with ensuring that companies under its jurisdiction provide safe, reliable service, at just and reasonable rates, consistent with environmental standards. The ferocity and scale of wildfires associated with utility infrastructure since 2017 demand new approaches to protect public safety and forestall climate change.
Displaced evacuees will soon have trailers at Rolling Hills Casino
CORNING, Calif. — It’s been almost a month since the deadly Camp Fire began, but many evacuees are still living in RV’s across the Northstate including some at Rolling Hills Casino, like Gwen Nordgren.
She’s staying at the casino’s RV park with her dog and daughter’s family just two spaces away.
She says she knows her entire family lost their homes in Paradise.
Paradise business owners fearful “The Ridge” will lose it’s charm, SBA offering assistance
PARADISE, Calif. — The Paradise and Chico Chamber of Commerce in collaboration with the Small Business Administration hosted a disaster assistance meeting on Thursday for victims of the Camp Fire. The purpose of the meeting was to provide business owners with information on how they can apply for assistance with the SBA to keep their businesses afloat in the wake of the Camp Fire.
Many business owners were in attendance to get more information about the future of their businesses and how they are going to survive economically.
Federal judge demands answers from PG&E on cause of Camp Fire
According to the Sac Bee, a federal judge overseeing PG&E’s criminal probation following the deadly San Bruno pipeline explosion is demanding answers from PG&E about its role in the Camp Fire or other major wildfires.
In the written order, U.S. District Judge William Alsup told PG&E to “provide an accurate and complete statement of the role, if any, of PG&E in causing and reporting the recent Camp Fire in Butte County and all other wildfires in California since the judgement herein”.
The order added, “What specific steps has the monitor herein taken to monitor and improve PG&E safety and reporting with respect to power lines and wildfires?”.
It was originally built in 1919. What failed on PG&E tower at heart of Camp Fire probe?
PULGA — With winds gusting around 50 mph in the morning hours of Nov. 8, portions of a PG&E steel lattice transmission tower — exposed to the elements high on a ridgetop and originally built when Woodrow Wilson was president — failed.
As high-voltage lines got loose and whipped around, striking the metal tower, molten aluminum and metal sprayed across tinder dry vegetation, igniting the brush. Arriving firefighters could only watch as the blaze underneath the power lines quickly spread to wild timber and brush.
PG&E plunges 21% amid disclosure of an ‘electric incident’ just before wildfire
- Shares of utility PG&E fell 21 percent on Wednesday after the company said its insurance wouldn’t cover its cost if it’s found responsible for the Camp Fire.
- “If the Utility’s equipment is determined to be the cause, the Utility could be subject to significant liability in excess of insurance coverage,” the company said.
- The utility company also discloses that it submitted an “electric incident report” to the California Public Utilities Commission on Nov. 8, just before the wildfire.
Camp Fire: Map shows where PG&E had planned to shut down power ahead of blaze
A PG&E map of the Camp Fire area, exclusively obtained by this news organization, raises new questions about the utility’s power-shutoff policies and its decision to keep electricity flowing in advance of the deadly and destructive blaze.
The map, received from a PG&E official by Butte County chief administrative officer Shari McCracken, includes red lines overlaying the towns of Paradise, Magalia and others like a swarm of aggressive tapeworms. The red indicates the distribution lines that PG&E had planned to de-energize in advance of high winds and other dangerous fire conditions forecast for the morning of Nov. 8 — a plan the utility ultimately decided was unnecessary.
PG&E shares hit multiyear low as deadly Camp Fire rages
- Trading in shares of Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) resumed this morning after initially plunging 23% and halting due to volatility triggered by damage from the Camp Fire in Butte County, California, which CalFire recorded as starting soon after the utility experienced an outage on Thursday morning.
- PG&E filed an electric safety incident report Thursday evening, reporting to the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) news of the outage and damage to a transmission tower “approximately one mile north-east of the town of Pulga, in the area of the Camp Fire.” The cause of the fire remains under investigation.
- Camp Fire has become the most destructive fire in the state’s history, burning more than 6,700 buildings and killing at least 29 people. PG&E equipment has been the cause of several deadly wildfires in the state, and the investor-owned utility (IOU) has incurred more than $2 billion in costs, net of insurance recoveries, related to wildfires so far this year.
PG&E Cancelled Planned Power Outage Just Before Camp Fire Ignited
When strong autumn winds roared into Northern California, Pacific Gas & Electric Co. decided it was going to take an extreme action to prevent a repeat of last year’s firestorms that destroyed thousands of homes in Santa Rosa.
But for reasons that remain unclear, the utility decided not to shut off power that day. On Oct. 14, the company cautiously shut off power to some 60,000 Sierra foothills and North Bay customers, hoping to prevent any downed power lines from sparking a fire. On Nov. 6, PG&E again began warning 70,000 customers — including those in the town of Paradise — that it might flip the switch in the face of fire danger.