US/World

PG&E Blamed For Over 1,500 California Fires And Deadliest Blaze In State

Pacific Gas & Electric Co. (PG&E) has announced that California may continue to experience power cuts in the coming years due to increased risk of blazes. But public officials and critics said the company was the one that caused hundreds of fires over the past year. 

The company has been blamed for more than 1,500 fires from 2014 to 2017. Critics said poor quality and maintenance of its equipment contributed to the majority of the incidents across California. 

The claim comes after the recent Kincade Fire that damaged nearly 78,000 acres of California wine country. The fire also forced nearly 180,000 people to evacuate and left millions of residents without electricity for days. 

Northern California has been experiencing low humidity and strong winds, which placed the state in fire-hazard conditions. Due to the increased risk of blazes, PG&E cut power to nearly 1.1 million customers in October.

But the power outage may not be temporary. PG&E CEO Bill Johnson said preemptive outages may continue across California over the next 10 years.

"We recognize the hardship of not having electric service," a company spokesperson told Business Insider. "While we recognize that the scope of these events is unsustainable in the long term, it was the correct decision given the large-scale, historic weather events and ensuing equipment damage that unfolded across our service area."

PG&E And California Fires

The plan to continue cutting power raised concerns across the state. Critics questioned PG&E’s delayed efforts to address the issue after being linked to hundreds of fires in the past years. 

Short before the Kincade Fire ignited, officials reported a PG&E transmission tower in the area had a broken jumper cable. A California state agency said the company’s equipment also caused the Camp Fire, which officials considered as deadliest and most destructive fire in the state’s history.

Camp Fire killed 85 people and damaged more than 18,800 structures in 2018. A report in 2017 showed that PG&E lacked a comprehensive safety strategy to respond to a major disaster.

California Gov. Gavin Newsom said he plans to restructure PG&E after it filed for bankruptcy in January due to billions of dollars in legal claims related to past wildfires. 

"We should not have to be here — years and years of greed, years and years of mismanagement, particularly with the largest investor-owned utility in the state of California, PG&E," he said during a press conference in late October. 

Wildfire The rising temperatures amid climate change is expected to increase the risk of wildfires in the U.S. Pixabay

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