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Camp Fire victim says PG & E warned of transmission tower problem

PULGA – The day before firefighter radio transmissions revealed a malfunctioning PG & E power line may have triggered the…

PULGA – The day before firefighter radio transmissions revealed a malfunctioning PG & E power line may have triggered the state’s most destructive wildfire, a business owner in this tiny town near Camp Fire’s origin said she received an email from the utility alerting her that workers had to fix a sparking problem on a nearby power line.

In the email received Wednesday, the company said they would be coming out to work at one of their nearby towers that “had problems with sparks,” said Betsy Ann Cowley, the owner of Pulga, a former abandoned railroad town turned retreat popular with techies.

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“This needs to be a class action lawsuit,” the former Oakland resident said.

Just what might have caused the sparking is unclear, but the radio transmissions reviewed by Bay Area News Group and An alert sent to state regulators indicates a transmission line created a hazard about 1

5 minutes before the blaze was first reported. Firefighters found downed power lines and a fast-moving four beneath the high-voltage wires when they arrived at the fire’s origin about a mile northeast of Pulga by the dam.

A PG & E spokesman said he was looking into Cowley’s claims. [19659002]

Smoke rises beyond PG & E’s Poe Dam off I-70, in Pulga, Calif., Nov. 9, 2018, near the reported start of the Camp Fire blaze that destroyed the city of Paradise and killed at least 42 people. (Karl Mondon / Bay Area News Group)

The California Public Utilities Commission launched investigations Monday into California’s two largest utility companies after both PG & E and Southern California Edison Company reported that their electrical infrastructure suffered malfunctions near ground zero of two deadly blows raging across

The probes will “assess the compliance of electrical facilities with applicable rules and regulations in four impacted areas,” CPUC spokeswoman Terrie Prosper said Monday. “The CPUC staff investigations may include an inspection of the four sites once Cal Fire allows access, as well as maintenance of facilities, vegetation management, and emergency preparedness and response.”

Both utility companies have reiterated that no cause of either fire has been determined.

PG & E already face billions in potential liability because of the role of its power equipment in other destructive wildfires, including those last year in the Wine Country. The utility kan ansvarsfullt ansvar fra Camp Fire, hvis dets udstyr er anset for at være skyld, men dets finansielle risiko er blevet reduceret ved en kontroversiel lov, der blev vedtaget tidligere i år, som gør det muligt at overføre omkostningerne til fire skade på ratepayers under nogle circumstances.

On Friday, PG & E disclosed in a filing to the CPUC that it had detected an outage on a transmission line in Butte County, occurring about 15 minutes before the Camp Fire was first reported and in the same location Cal Fire pinpointed as the origin. The utility said a subsequent aerial inspection detected damage to a transmission tower on the same transmission line a mile northeast of the town of Pulga “in the area of ​​the Camp Fire.”

That is the approximate location of Poe Dam where initial radio transmissions of the fire – which has killed at least 42 people and destroyed more than 7,000 structures – indicate that a damaged transmission line was found by firefighters who discovered the initial four beneath the high-voltage wires. Ongeveer 48 uur voor de vier begonnen, had het nut meerdere provincies, waaronder Butte, dat het zou kunnen stoppen. Thursday morning due to dangerous fire weather conditions. But in the end, PG & E kept the power on.

The Butte County District Attorney Mike Ramsey said Friday that his office has been in discussions with Cal Fire to preserve the four scene and any potential evidence for a possible criminal investigation. 19659002] On Monday, guards blocked access to the road beyond her Cowley’s property preventing anyone from continuing the final 3/4 mile to the transformer tower.

“I’ve continuously tried to get in touch with them but nobody is in charge and they suck at communication, “she said of PG & E workers who handle nearby transmission lines.

Radio transmissions from the first firefighters on the scene said it was managed vegetation area that was initially initially initiated. “The lines, she said, have been ignored for years, except for herds of goats on the slope. , but high winds were the flames to nearby brush and timber.

Michael Flautt, who often testifies as an electric accident expert in court, said he would look at whether an equipment problem led to the malfunction in the 115kV Caribou-Palermo transmission line.

“They should check if the equipment at the original source was not set up properly for a short or a ground fault,” Flautt said, stressing that he had not seen the equipment and was offering his expert opinion. “You’d rather have the equipment trip, rather than catch four.”

While metallic transmission towers are sturdier, they conduct electricity in contrast to wooden poles, which often carry the smaller, lower voltage in residential lines.

In March, PG & E said that during high winds it would periodically disable automated devices that could allow electrical power to continue flowing despite minor disruption on the transmission or residential power lines. Andre utilities stoppe udstyret under store vind, fordi hvis trådene kommer ned, de fortsætter med at sende strøm og kunne danne vegetation på jorden.

Som svar på en spørgsmålet om, hvorvidt de automatiske enheder, som kaldes genlukkere, var deaktiveret i området The transmission line malfunction, PG & E issued the following statement:

“Nothing is more important than the safety of our customers, employees, contractors and the communities we serve,” said spokesman Paul Doherty. “The cause of the Camp Fire has not yet been determined. Right now, our entire company is focused on supporting first responders and assisting our customers and communities affected by the Camp Fire. “

A crew from Capstone Fire Management was on the dam inspecting the area Monday. The San Diego-based private firefighting company was hired by PG & E to buffer its fire prevention operations, including engine crews and personnel to staff operations centers.

Cowley said she had just returned Monday from her first vacation in four years since buying the place to find here home destroyed.

On Thursday, SoCal Edison issued an alert to the CPUC that a substation circuit near the origin of the Woolsey Fire in. Southern California “relayed,” or sensed a disturbance on the circuit, just two minutes before Cal Fire said that devastating fire began.

“Preliminary information indicates the Woolsey Fire was reported at approximately 2:24 pm,” the company reported. “Our information reflects the Big Rock 16 kV circuit out of Chatsworth Substation relayed at 2:22 pm”

SoCal Edison said staff had not been able to access the area to investigate further and stressed there had been no determination of cause. 19659002] A Cal Fire official said it would be reviewing “electrical equipment” as part of its probe into the Camp Fire.

PG & E stockholders have engaged in a massive sell-off since Friday. Trading in the utility was briefly halted Monday after stocks dropped more than 37 percent, before settling at a 17 percent loss on the day. The plummeting shares marked the steepest loss since the power crisis for more than a decade ago.

In Paradise, evacuees were upset with the utility.

“Seems like the responsibility is pointing towards them,” said Travis Crockett, who lost his home on Winding Way in Paradise. “Even on our street, there’s a bunch of power lines going through trees.”

Staff writers Karl Mondon and David DeBolt, and the Associated Press, contributed to this report.

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