FAIRFAX (CBS SF) — A wildfire that has charred 152 acres in and near the Samuel P. Taylor State Park and triggered the evacuation of nearby residents was caused by downed PG&E power lines, officials announced Wednesday.

One of our KPIX 5 camera crews was able to get exclusive video of the downed power lines that provided the spark.

While it is still not clear how the lines came down, Marin County fire confirmed they sparked the Irving fire.

“The details on that are still being investigated, but we were able to isolate that the downed power line was the cause the fire,” said Marin County Fire spokesperson Laine Hendricks.

The Irving fire was 65 percent contained by Wednesday morning and all evacuation orders had been lifted and all roads had reopened.

Marin County Fire Department spokeswoman Laine Hendricks said no one has been injured and no structures have been damaged in the fire caused by the downed power lines.

The fire started just outside of the park at around 7 p.m. Monday night and quickly advanced toward dozens of homes in Lagunitas and Upper Forest Knoll.

Firefighters battled the blaze from the air and carefully worked on steep inclines in the wilderness and popular hiking area. Evacuation orders were initially issued Monday night for residents on Mountain King Road, Portola Avenue and Alamo Way to Arroyo Road to Barranca Road.

“It’s not just the terrain, it’s heavy brush,” said Marin County Fire Deputy Fire Chief Mark Brown.

The revelation of the cause comes in the wake of the passage of state Senate Bill 901 that will have customers help cover the liability costs related to last year’s North Bay wildfires which destroyed thousands of homes and took multiple lives.

The Irving Fire marks at least the 17th fire that investigators have blamed on PG&E equipment, though in many of those cases there was no evidence that the utility violated any safety laws.

More than 200 lawsuits now blame the utility for the Wine Country wildfires with PG&E’s estimated potential liability much as $17 billion.

“The state investigation of the fires has found PG&E to be at fault for numerous fires that originated in October 2017 throughout Northern California, and the city believes that PG&E will also be found to have contributed significantly to the cause of the Tubbs Fire,” Santa Rosa city officials who have filed suit against the utility.

The fires destroyed 5,300 homes and killed 24 people in Sonoma County, and the Coffey Park, Fountaingrove and Mark West neighborhoods in and near Santa Rosa were the hardest hit.

Comments (3)
  1. Miriam Gopi Weinstein says:

    Building codes need to require all new homes in wildland interfaces or rural areas have underground electric cables or be off the grid. Period. And shame on the Senate for dumping the cost on consumers.

  2. PG&E fails miserably yet again. The above-the-ground power distribution system dates back a century, but as usual PG&E puts profits before safety and refuses to bury the power lines.

    Here come more lawsuits and higher utility rates for the customers of this loser company.

  3. Diane Johnson says:

    If they spent all the money they’re putting into PR and putting a positive spin on PG&E’s fire prevention, then some real action may take place. Making consumers pay for both the resulting damages and the public relations ads is not right.

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