The Camp Fire that erupted in California last fall and ultimately became “the deadliest and most destructive” blaze in the state’s history was triggered by electrical transmission lines owned by Pacific Gas and Electricity (PG&E), officials said Wednesday.
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After the fire began on Nov. 8, fire investigators started looking into its origin and cause, Cal Fire said in a news release.
“After a very meticulous and thorough investigation, CAL FIRE has determined that the Camp Fire was caused by electrical transmission lines owned and operated by Pacific Gas and Electricity (PG&E) located in the Pulga area,” officials said.
The remains of residences leveled by the Camp wildfire in California were captured in this Nov. 15 aerial photo. The fire killed 85 civilians and injured numerous firefighters, officials said. (AP Photo/Noah Berger, File)
The Camp Fire – which killed 85 civilians and injured numerous firefighters – ignited near Pulga, Calif., which is located in Butte County, according to Cal Fire. Tinder, dry vegetation and weather-related conditions “caused extreme rates of spread.”
An additional ignition site was also discovered during the investigation, officials said.
“The cause of the second fire was determined to be vegetation into electrical distribution lines owned and operated by PG&E,” Cal Fire said. “This fire was consumed by the original fire which started earlier near Pulga.”
Aside from the high level of fatalities, the Camp Fire burned 153,336 acres and destroyed 18,804 structures, according to the agency.
The utility, which filed for bankruptcy protection in January, had said in February it was "probable" that one of its transmission lines sparked the blaze, according to The Associated Press. PG&E has reportedly estimated its total liability from the Paradise fire and 2017 wildfires could top $30 billion.
PG&E released a statement following Cal Fire's announcement on the cause of the Camp Fire, saying the company "accepts this determination."
"Our hearts go out to those who have lost so much, and we remain focused on supporting them through the recovery and rebuilding process," PG&E said. "We also want to thank the brave first responders who worked tirelessly to save lives, contain the Camp Fire and protect citizens and communities."
"While we have not been able to review CAL FIRE’s report, its determination that PG&E transmission lines near the Pulga area ignited the Camp Fire on the morning of November 8, 2018, is consistent with the company’s previous statements," they continued. "We have not been able to form a conclusion as to whether a second fire ignited as a result of vegetation contact with PG&E electrical distribution lines, as CAL FIRE also determined. PG&E is fully cooperating with all ongoing investigations concerning the Camp Fire."
The Associated Press contributed to this report.