Utility tells state equipment might have caused deadly fire
SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) - Fire investigators investigating what caused a devastating fire that killed four people in far northern California have taken possession of equipment from Pacific Gas and Electric, the utility reported.
PG&E said in a report filed Friday with the Public Utilities Commission that investigators with the California Department of Forestry and Fire Safety had confiscated some of their electrical equipment near the start of the Zogg Fire on September 27th.
The fire started in Shasta County in high 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 which were homes. It was almost entirely included.
The utility said it did not have access to the evidence collected by Cal Fire, which is yet to determine the cause of the fire.
PG&E, the country's largest utility company, recently emerged from bankruptcy stemming from the financial aftermath of multiple devastating forest fires caused by its utility equipment, which 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 began, 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 told regulators. 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.
In June, Pacific Gas & Electric admitted Tuesday that it killed 84 people in one of the most devastating forest fires in recent US history, during a dramatic trial punctuated by the company's outgoing CEO's promise that the country's largest utility company would be never again will prefer profits over security.
Bill Johnson, CEO of PG&E, pleaded guilty to 84 involuntary manslaughter crimes following a devastating fire in November 2018 caused by the utility's crumbling electricity network. The fire would have wiped out almost the entire town of Paradise and bankrupt PG&E early last year.
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