PG&E says it’s “probable” its equipment caused deadly Camp Fire

The utility recently filed bankruptcy amid flurry of lawsuits from homeowners

Utility crews at site of Camp Fire
Utility crews at site of Camp Fire

Pacific Gas & Electric Co. is assuming blame for the worst wildfire in California history.

On Thursday, the company said it is “probable” that its equipment caused the Camp Fire that killed 85 people at the end of 2018, the Los Angeles Times reported. The investigation into the exact cause is still ongoing.

The revelation by PG&E was the latest fallout from last year’s deadly wildfires, which affected residents in Northern and Southern California. In January, the utility giant filed for bankruptcy protection to protect it from liabilities of up to $30 billion.

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Several survivors have filed lawsuits against PG&E, alleging its failure to properly maintain power lines set off the state emergency. One lawsuit claims the company misdirected “necessary safety-related expenditures” to boost the firm’s bottom line and shareholder profits.

California’s three largest utility companies caused more than 2,000 fires in the state between mid-2014 and the end of 2017. PG&E reported 1,552 equipment-related fires during that time.

The Camp Fire, which took place in November 2018, destroyed 21,000 homes across six counties in Northern California.

In Southern California, a group of more than 170 residents have also filed a lawsuit against Southern California Edison, which provides power for most of the region, including Los Angeles. The lawsuit claims the utility company was partially responsible for the Woolsey Fire, which destroyed more than 1,600 structures in November. The blaze caused an estimated $5 billion in damage, including around $1.6 billion in Malibu alone. [LAT]Natalie Hoberman

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