U.S. District Court Judge William Alsup ruled last Thursday that California utility company Pacific Gas and Electric was “the single most recurring cause” that contributed to devastating wildfires that burned millions of acres and led to the deaths of dozens of California residents.
According to NBC News, Alsup wrote in a scathing opinion:
The Court tentatively finds that the single most recurring cause of the large 2017 and 2018 wildfires attributable to PG&E’s equipment has been the susceptibility of PG&E’s distribution lines to trees or limbs falling onto them during high-wind events.
The power conductors are almost always uninsulated. When the conductors are pushed together by falling trees or limbs, electrical sparks drop into the vegetation below. During the wildfire season when the vegetation is dry, these electrical sparks pose an extreme danger of igniting a wildfire.
Scott McLean, deputy chief of communication for the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, told NBC the state determined PG&E was liable for 12 of 17 wildfires during the 2017 season, but has yet to rule on last year’s fires, including the Camp Fire, which killed 88.
PG&E has reportedly acknowledged its equipment may have played a role in the historic fire. Meanwhile, the utility company plans to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy as liabilities related to the Camp Fire could exceed $30 billion, the Sacramento Bee reported. – READ MORE