Bay Area

Cal Fire: Downed PG&E power lines to blame for North Bay fires

NAPA COUNTY (KRON)- - Cal Fire investigators have determined the cause of 12 Northern California wildfires that devastated the region in October 2017.

The agency said in a report Friday that investigators determined the fires “were caused by electric power and distribution lines, conductors and the failure of power poles.”

All involved equipment are owned by PG&E.

PG&E has released the following statement in response:

“The loss of life, homes and businesses in these extraordinary wildfires is simply heartbreaking, and we remain focused on helping communities recover and rebuild. We look forward to the opportunity to carefully review the CAL FIRE reports to understand the agency’s perspectives. Based on the information we have so far, we continue to believe our overall programs met our state’s high standards.”

The deadly fire in the report burned in Mendocino and Napa counties.

Cal Fire believes that eight of the 12 fires could have possibly been prevented. They have been referred to District Attorney's offices for review due to evidence of alleged violations of state law.

The report does not include the Tubbs Fire, which ripped through Santa Rosa and was one of the most destructive wildfires in California history.

Cal Fire says the investigation into the Tubbs Fire has not yet been completed.

Below is a summary of the Cal Fire findings from the 12 investigations:

The Redwood Fire, in Mendocino County, started the evening of Oct. 8 and burned a total of 36,523 acres, destroying 543 structures. There were nine civilian fatalities and no injuries to firefighters. CAL FIRE has determined the fire started in two locations and was caused by tree or parts of trees falling onto PG&E power lines.

The Sulphur Fire, in Lake County, started the evening of Oct. 8 and burned a total of 2,207 acres, destroying 162 structures. There were no injuries. CAL FIRE investigators determined the fire was caused by the failure of a PG&E owned power pole, resulting in the power lines and equipment coming in contact with the ground.

The Cherokee Fire, in Butte County, started the evening of Oct. 8 and burned a total of 8,417 acres, destroying 6 structures. There were no injuries. CAL FIRE investigators have determined the cause of the fire was a result of tree limbs coming into contact with PG&E power lines.

The 37 Fire, in Sonoma County, started the evening of Oct. 9 and burned a total of 1,660 acres, destroying 3 structures. There were no injuries. CAL FIRE investigators have determined the cause of the fire was electrical and was associated with the PG&E distribution lines in the area.

The Blue Fire, in Humboldt County, started the afternoon of Oct. 8 and burned a total of 20 acres. There were no injuries. CAL FIRE investigators have determined a PG&E power line conductor separated from a connector, causing the conductor to fall to the ground, starting the fire.

The Norrbom, Adobe, Partrick, Pythian and Nuns fires were part of a series of fires that merged in Sonoma and Napa counties. These fires started in the late-night hours of Oct. 8 and burned a combined total of 56,556 acres, destroying 1,355 structures. There were three civilian fatalities.

CAL FIRE investigators determined the Norrbom Fire was caused by a tree falling and coming in contact with PG&E power lines.

CAL FIRE investigators determined the Adobe Fire was caused by a eucalyptus tree falling into a PG&E powerline.

CAL FIRE investigators determined the Partrick Fire was caused by an oak tree falling into PG&E powerlines.

CAL FIRE investigators determined the Pythian Fire was caused by a downed powerline after PG&E attempted to re-energize the line.

CAL FIRE investigators determined the Nuns Fire was caused by a broken top of a tree coming in contact with a power line.

The Pocket Fire, in Sonoma County, started the early morning hours of Oct. 9 and burned a total of 17,357 acres, destroying 6 structures. There were no injuries. CAL FIRE has determined the fire was caused by the top of an oak tree breaking and coming into contact with PG&E power lines.

The Atlas Fire, in Napa County, started the evening of Oct. 8 and burned a total of 51,624 acres, destroying 783 structures. There were six civilian fatalities. CAL FIRE investigators determined the fire started in two locations. At one location, it was determined a large limb broke from a tree and came into contact with a PG&E power line. At the second location, investigators determined a tree fell into the same line.

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