BUTTE COUNTY, Calif. (AP) — PG&E officials on Friday said the utility experienced problem on transmission line minutes before the massive Camp Fire in Butte County erupted.

An electric safety incident was reported by PG&E at about 6:15 a.m. Thursday near Pulga Road in Butte County, near where the Camp Fire started.

In the summary of the incident, it states , PG&E experienced an outage on the Caribou-Palermo 115 kV transmission line in Butte County.

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That afternoon, PG&E technicians on aerial patrol observed damage to a transmission tower on the same transmission line, approximately one mile northeast of the community of Pulga in the area of the Camp Fire.

PG&E officials noted in the report that the information is preliminary.

The utility has been under fire since being blamed for some of the Wine Country wildfires of October 2017 that destroyed hundreds of homes, forced the evacuation of 90,000 North Bay residents and left more than 40 people dead.

Last June, the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection report determined that PG&E power lines and equipment failures were to blame for 12 of the catastrophic wildfires.

PG&E has since implemented a new policy that will cut electricity to certain areas during extreme fire weather conditions.

“If their lines are involved and there’s a repeat pattern of failure to engage in risk management, then those people should go to jail,” said Frank Pitre, an attorney who has represented fire victims from San Bruno to Santa Rosa in suits against PG&E.

Speaking with KPIX 5’s Joe Vazquez, Pitre said he doesn’t understand why the utility company failed to follow through with its plan for preemptive power outages.

“To do things like shutting off power in the face of known high danger of winds and high risk of a fire … that’s courage. That’s leadership. And that’s when you put safety first above profits,” Pitre said.

The Camp Fire has killed at least nine people and destroyed thousands of homes. Paradise is 180 miles northeast of San Francisco.

Comments (2)
  1. Sandy Meitrott says:

    People also need to remember PG&E was deemed responsible for the 2015 Butte Fire in Calaveras County too. This is starting to become an issue that appears to be related to maintenance…or lack thereof.

  2. Lauren Filice says:

    As a retired Land Use Planner who reviewed development projects for hazards and viability, and a Journeyman Millwright who constructed and maintained large industrial projects, we chose Paradise as our retirement community just last spring. We felt good about buying in the Paradise community because, unlike other foothill communities we looked at, natural gas and a community water supply system were installed to serve the township. We know how much safer this is than private wells and propane tanks.
    We found new friends and neighbors amongst a community of people who are openly friendly, caring, helpful and sharing. Also local businesses that sponsor community activities like the ‘Music in the Park’ series this summer. These community attitudes came to the forefront during the rapid timeframe allowed us all to escape from the firestorm. It’s amazing how well everyone held together through it all. We are especially grateful to the emergency response workers: Police and Sheriffs, Healthcare and Ambulance, and Fire agencies – even teachers at the schools who evacuated students in their own cars — Our HEROES
    In accordance with the new PG&E ‘policy’ noted in the article above, we received several texts on Tuesday forward noting high fire and wind danger, and cautioning that PG&E would be cutting power to the area. That didn’t happen until AFTER 8:30 a.m. on Thursday morning, when our emergency generator kicked on…. At least 2 hours too late!
    Although devastated by the fire, we can get through the initial shock and begin to pick up the pieces of our shattered lives. The people of Paradise should then rally together to hold PG&E and our CA government and oversight agencies responsible for these horrendous damages and needless loss of lives.

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