PG&E power lines downed by high winds may have caused the deadly Camp Fire, which has destroyed the town of Paradise and killed at least five people, firefighter radio transmissions show. According to a report by the Bay Area News Group, at about 6:33 a.m. on Nov. 8, firefighters were sent to a vegetation fire under high-tension power lines across the Feather River from Poe Dam. The first firefighters arrived at the scene around 6:43 a.m. and noted that the flames were being fanned by 35 mph winds. There has been no evidence so far that the Camp Fire was caused by arson. However, officials are still investigating the cause of the fire.
High Winds and Downed Power Lines
Radio transmissions reviewed by the Bay Area News Group also showed that around 6:34 a.m. on Nov. 8 another fire crew was dispatched to a report of a branch taking down power lines in Magalia, about 8 miles west of Paradise. During last year’s Napa and Sonoma county fires, within 90 minutes of the fires’ origin, fire crews were sent to at least 10 different locations for downed wires and problems with the electrical system amid high winds.
PG&E has been widely criticized and faces lawsuits in a number of other large and deadly fires across California. State investigators have pointed to PG&E equipment flaws as the reason for at least 16 fires in Northern California. Investigators said the utility company violated state safety laws in 11 of the fires.
In September, Gov. Jerry Brown signed a bill that enables PG&E to use bonds to pay off potential lawsuits relating to the fires. Customers would pay off the bond unless the California Public Utilities Commission finds that the utility company acted negligently in any of the fires. If that is determined to be the case, the company and its shareholders would pay off the bonds.
What Can Victims Do?
The fires across California have caused tremendous devastation including property damage and loss of lives. These fires have resulted in unspeakable heartbreak and tragedy for families that have had to abandon their homes and flee to safe ground. If the fires were in fact sparked by the negligence of the utility company, they should absolutely be held liable.
If you have lost your home, it is important that you gather as much evidence as possible. Take photos of the damage and videos if possible. Collect all the paperwork relating to your home and contact your insurance company to file a claim. If you have suffered injuries or if you have lost a loved one in a fire, contact an experienced California personal injury lawyer who will fight for your rights every step of the way and ensure that the negligent parties are held accountable. Our prayers are with all those who have affected by these deadly wildfires.