SAN FRANCISCO (KRON) — Two preemptive power shut offs by PG& this past week, at one point affecting nearly one million customers over the weekend.
Despite the shut offs, the California Public Utilities Commission is now investigating the utility as cause of at least five Bay Area fires over a one week period.
CEO and President Bill Johnson responded to those incidents.
“You know we’ve shown here damage of over 300 instances of things that could’ve caused fires and major fires and you saw the pictures behind Mark as he was talking,” Johnson said. ‘Trees in line, lines down, debris in lines, all of which can cause catastrophic wildfire so in a wind event that might have caused some of those fires you referenced. I haven’t seen those reports that really allocated that yet, you could have a fire at any instance so I think what we’ve done is we have mitigated and avoided numerous thing that’s could’ve been catastrophic fire.”
On Wednesday, Contra Costa fire officials said PG&E power lines started the Bethel Island Fire on Sunday.
Surveillance video shows sparks shooting from its lines moments before the Bethal Island Fire broke out.
That same day, the fire department says PG&E’s equipment again malfunctioned, sending sparks 200- yards into vegetation, starting another fire in Oakley.
Despite this information from fire officials, PG&E avoided taking any sort of responsibility on Thursday.
“For us, the main thing is we didn’t cause any fires for these people, we didn’t burn any houses… the Kincade Fire is still under investigation, I got that.”
PG&E is also under investigation for two Lafayette fires over the weekend where a tennis club was destroyed.
And of course, there’s the Kincade Fire that’s still burning nearly 78,000 acres.
So far, it’s destroyed 349 structures, including homes.
PG&E filed a report last week where the utility said there was a broken jumper on a transmission tower near Kincade Road and burned mountain – the same location where the fire began.
It says the affected transmission tower was not de-energized as part of the power safety shut offs.
“We looked at everything fixed, everything on priority basis needed fixing. we have very aggressive vegetation team well beyond regulatory requirements and I really don’t think the item you mentioned are cause,” Johnson said.
In its press conference, PG&E said these fires aren’t just a Bay Area problem, but a California problem.
They put a lot of the blame on climate.
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