Util­ity im­pli­cated in wine-coun­try wild­fires

The Washington Post Sunday - - POLITICS & THE NATION -

A dozen wild­fires that burned thou­sands of homes in Cal­i­for­nia’s wine coun­try and killed at least 15 peo­ple in Oc­to­ber were started by Pa­cific Gas & Elec­tric power lines and poles, state fire of­fi­cials said.

The Cal­i­for­nia De­part­ment of Forestry and Fire Pro­tec­tion re­leased its in­ves­ti­ga­tion Fri­day for some of the wind-driven fires that rav­aged Men­do­cino, Hum­boldt, Butte, Sonoma, Lake and Napa coun­ties.

Fall­ing trees and tree limbs hit­ting power lines were the most com­mon cause, but one fire erupted after PG&E tried to reen­er­gize a downed line, in­ves­ti­ga­tors found.

In eight fires there was “ev­i­dence of al­leged vi­o­la­tions of state law” by the util­ity, and those cases have been re­ferred to county pros­e­cu­tors for re­view, ac­cord­ing to the forestry de­part­ment.

PG&E said in a state­ment that the com­pany thinks its “over­all pro­grams met our state’s high stan­dards” for main­tain­ing elec­tri­cal equip­ment. The util­ity said it in­spects its 2 mil­lion power poles reg­u­larly and prunes about 1.4 mil­lion trees a year. But “years of drought, ex­treme heat and 129 mil­lion dead trees have cre­ated a ‘new nor­mal’ for our state” that has in­creased the num­ber of large wild­fires and the length of the wild­fire sea­son, the util­ity said.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.