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.

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


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.

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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.

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