SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX) — According to documents obtained by KPIX, state lawmakers are investigating a piece of PG&E equipment known as a “recloser” as a possible cause of the devastating, deady Wine Country fires in October.
More than a dozen wildfires broke out overnight on Oct. 8.READ MORE: Suspect Resisting Arrest Shoots Himself in the Foot During Struggle With Sunnyvale Police
As swirling winds swept across Napa, Sonoma and Mendocino county mountains and valleys.
Reclosers send a pulse of electricity through a power line to determine if it is malfunctioning. If no problem is detected, the line is energized and power flows as normal to homes and businesses.
The downside: if a severed power line is in contact with a tree or the ground, that temporary surge of electricity can spark a fire.READ MORE: 'The Father Is A Hero'; Oakland Man, 1-Year-Old Daughter Die In Horrific Arson Fire
PG&E acknowledges this in a letter sent to state senator Jerry Hill (D-San Mateo).
The letter states: “While, as a general matter, PG&E believes that reclosing technology improves both reliability and safety, under certain circumstances, reclosing has the potential for wildfire risk.”
The power company has the capability of shutting off reclosers in fire-prone areas but it says only three reclosers were shut down in Napa and Sonoma.MORE NEWS: Antioch Teen Fatally Wounded In Saturday Night Shooting
There is still no official cause of the North Bay wildfires but legislators believe they may have identified a potential culprit.