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Cal Fire reaches a quicker, divergent conclusion in Camp fire from 2017 Tubbs inferno



Six months after the Camp killed 85 people and destroyed the city of Paradise, residents from the Sierra Nevada communities east of Chico had a confirmation of what was long suspected: one of PG & E's aging transmission lines sparked wildfire, which destroyed so many lives .

It's a swift conclusion compared to the 16 months that survivors of the 2017 Tubbs fire have been waiting to receive Cal Fire's far less decisive report in that blaze. After a lengthy process of elimination at a source site largely destroyed by fire, the agency announced earlier this year that the electric equipment owned by the elderly Napa County property owner likely caused a 36,807-acre fire that burned the west across Mayacamas Mountains to Santa Rosa, killing 22 people and destroying more than 4,700 homes. The finding cleared PG & E of responsibility and left the Tubbs as the only major blaze in the 201

7 October firestorm not caused by the utility's equipment.

Cal Fire spokesman Michael Mohler said that "every fire is different," said Cal Fire spokesman Michael Mohler.

The investigations into the Camp and Tubbs fires developed along separate paths at different paces and arrived at disparate conclusions. He declined to discuss the factors that led Tubbs fire investigation to drag out of concern that it could reveal investigative techniques and impede Butte County District Attorney's Office review of Cal Fire findings.

"We do not work by a clock. We work by what we have to do, "Mohler said.

Wednesday's report on the Camp Fire will not change the course of the bankruptcy proceedings for upwards of 10,000 households seeking compensation from PG & E for their losses in 2017 and 2018 wildfires under a newly-processed process overseen by the bankruptcy judge.

"There was a working assumption from the beginning that this (the Camp fire) was a PG & E-fault case," said Santa Rosa-based attorney Roy Miller, who lost his Wikiup home in Tubbs fire and is part of the legal Group representing about 4,000 households with property loss in the state's major fires. "It's just the last piece of that puzzle."

The 153,336-acre Camp fire ignited Nov. 8 near Pulga, burning east into the foothill town and spreading west into Concow, Paradise, Magalia and the outskirts of east Chico. It destroyed 18,804 structures, including nearly 15,000 homes. PG & E's recent estimate of pegged its liabilities from the Camp fire of $ 10.5 billion.

As far back as November, PG & E public filings and statements foreshadowed Cal Fire's conclusion. In a statement Wednesday, utility officials said that Cal Fire's determination to fire started with transmission lines near Pulga "is consistent with the company's previous statements."

In contrast, Cal Fire's findings on Tubbs fire announced Jan. 24, diverged from widely held assumptions about how it started. These caltages were fueled in part by investigations into other 2017 fires in which Cal Fire identified the PG & E electric equipment as the prime ignition source. Separately, PG & E also informed utility officials that it had equipment in the area of ​​the fire origin outside Calistoga, which had failed in the time that the inferno erupted.

The agency's determination set out in a 80-page report that privately owned and maintained electric equipment. Bennett Lane sparked the Tubbs. Many people survived the firestorm and spurred uncertainty about whether they would become a lone group unable to seek compensation from the investor-owned utility for catastrophic losses. Tubbs fire liabilities were estimated at $ 17 billion.


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