California authorities said Wednesday that power lines owned and operated by the Pacific Gas & Electric Corp. (PG&E) caused the state’s most destructive wildfire ever – it killed 85 people and nearly destroyed an entire city.
Lines owned by the San Francisco-based utility sparked the deadly, fast-moving Camp Fire on Nov. 8 in the Pulga area of Butte County, the state Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (Cal Fire) said in a news release. In total, the blaze burned 153,336 acres and destroyed in excess of 18,000 structures.
The city of Paradise – population 27,000 — was nearly wiped out as residents evacuated and their homes and vehicles were engulfed in flames. Investigators also found a second nearby ignition site involving power lines owned by PG&E and vegetation that sparked another fire.
“This fire was consumed by the original fire which started earlier near Pulga,” Cal Fire said.
Paradise Mayor Jody Jones told the Associated Press she was not surprised that PG&E lines had sparked the blaze.
“It’s nice to have a definite answer,” Jones said, adding that she hopes the conclusion will help her city’s legal case against the utility.