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PG&E equipment sparked deadly California wildfire

PG&E equipment sparked deadly California wildfire

Lines owned by the San Francisco-based utility sparked the deadly, fast-moving Camp Fire on November 8 in the Pulga area of Butte County, the state Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (Cal Fire) said in a news release.

A representative for PG&E did not immediately respond to ABC News' request for comment.

The blaze burned 153,336 acres, destroyed 18,804 structures and resulted in the death of 85 people.

CEO Bill Johnson was testifying before the California Assembly's Utilities and Energy Committee when state fire authorities made their announcement.

The wind-driven blaze, dubbed the Camp Fire, erupted in the drought-parched Sierra foothills 175 miles (280 km) north of San Francisco in November 2018 and raced with little warning through the town of Paradise, incinerating much of that community.

The fire investigation report has been forwarded to the Butte County District Attorney, the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, also known as CAL FIRE, said in a press release Wednesday. Dry vegetation, strong winds and low humidity strengthened the fire, causing "extreme rates of spread" that ravaged the nearby communities of Concow, Paradise and Magalia.

Paradise Mayor Jody Jones said Wednesday she was not surprised to hear Pacific Gas & Electric power lines sparked the blaze that decimated her town and she hopes the findings help the city's legal case against the utility.

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Paradise sued PG&E in January seeking damages for the loss of infrastructure, land, property, trees, public and natural resources, and lost taxpayer resources.

Cal Fire found last June that PG&E-owned power lines had sparked a separate series of wildfires that swept Northern California's wine country in 2017. The people of Butte County are hopeful and resilient.

Gov. Gavin Newsom is urging the judge overseeing PG&E's bankruptcy to reject the company's request for a six-month extension to present its reorganization plan.

Investigators also pointed out a second ignition site, which apparently caught fire when vegetation blew into electrical distribution lines owned by PG&E.

Newsom and lawmakers are working on proposals around utility liability for wildfires that could affect the bankruptcy.

PG&E had already admitted it was likely to blame, and filed for protective bankruptcy in January to shield itself against billions of dollars in fire-related liability lawsuits.