California fire investigators seize utility equipment
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) - Fire investigators investigating what caused a devastating fire that killed four people in far northern California have taken possession of Pacific Gas and Electric equipment, the utility reported Friday.
PG&E announced in a report to the Public Utilities Commission that investigators with the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection had confiscated some of its electrical equipment near the start of the Zogg Fire on Sept. 27.
The fire started in Shasta County in strong winds and grew rapidly. Four people were killed in the community of Igo with 600 inhabitants. It later spread to neighboring Tehama County. By Friday, it had scorched nearly 228 square kilometers and destroyed more than 200 buildings, about half of them homes. It was almost entirely included.
The utility said it does not have access to the evidence collected by Cal Fire, which has yet to determine the cause of the fire.
PG&E, the country's largest utility company, recently emerged from a bankruptcy that resulted from the financial consequences of several devastating forest fires caused by its utility equipment that killed more than 100 people and more in 2017 and 2018 when 27,000 homes and other buildings were destroyed.
Customers in the area where the fire started, near Zogg Mine Road and Jenny Bird Lane north of Igo, are served by a 12,000-volt PG&E circuit. On the day the Zogg Fire started, the utility's automated equipment in the area reported “Alarms and other activity between approximately 2:40 in the morning. and 3:06 pm ", PG & E informed the regulatory authorities. The line was then deactivated.
The Shasta County Sheriff's Office identified one of the victims as Alaina Michelle Rowe, 45, who was found dead on a street on September 28. The sheriff's department said another victim was a minor but did not report the identity. KRCR-TV in Redding reported that Rowe and her eight-year-old daughter Feyla died while trying to escape the fire.
The other two victims, who were also found the day after the fire, are Karin King (79), who was found on the street where the fire started, and Kenneth Vossen (52), who was badly burned that day and later died in a hospital.
PG&E said in a statement that it is working with the investigation.
"We acknowledge the tragic losses incurred in this year's fire season and, as always, appreciate the efforts of first responders who worked tirelessly to contain the fires and protect the lives and property of California residents," it said said in the statement.
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