Cal Fire Says Utility Power Lines Caused Deadly Camp Fire

Rapidly-Spreading Wildfire In California's Butte County Prompts Evacuations

Cal Fire says a devastating wildfire that killed 85 people was caused by power lines owned by Pacific Gas & Electric.

According to the report issued by state investigators on Wednesday, the agency wrote that after conducting "a very meticulous and thorough investigation" of the 2018 Camp Fire, they determined the blaze had started in two different places near Paradise, California.

"Cal Fire announced today that it has determined that PG&E electrical transmission lines near Pulga were a cause of the Camp Fire," said PG&E in a statement. "PG&E accepts this determination."

PG&E - which is the state's largest electric utility - filed for bankruptcy protection in January after a slew of lawsuits were filed against the company by wildfire victims. An investigation into PG&E could even result in potential criminal charges, including murder or involuntary manslaughter, in connection with the Camp Fire.

A copy of the investigative report was forwarded by Cal Fire to Butte County District Attorney Mike Ramsey.

"The act by Cal Fire of forwarding its report is strictly symbolic," Ramsey’s office said in a statement Wednesday. "The fact the Camp Fire was started by a malfunction of equipment on a Pacific Gas & Electric Company transmission line has been known for months by investigators and had been, essentially, admitted by Pacific Gas & Electric in an early December 2018 report to the California Public Utility Commission."

The district attorney's office went on to say the investigation is expected to last from weeks to months.

"The investigation into how and why the PG&E transmission line equipment failed is ongoing in an effort to determine if PG&E or any of its personnel have any criminal liability," the District Attorney's office stated.

The 2018 blaze destroyed move than 18,000 structures and burned over 150,000 acres. Eighty-five people were killed in what became the deadliest wildfire in California history.

Photo: Getty Images

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