VIDEO: PG&E points to private power company as possible cause of deadly North Bay Firestorm

 

CALISTOGA (KRON) — KRON4 is learning more Monday night about the investigation into what may have caused the wildfires in the wine country.

This comes as PG&E, who is facing multiple lawsuits because of the fire, is now pointing the finger at a private power company as perhaps the source of the fires.

On Monday, KRON4 looks at where the Tubbs Fire, the biggest and most deadly blaze in the firestorm, may have started.

On Bennett Lane, north of downtown Calistoga, guards are parked at two homes, making sure no one gets close.

Neighbors tell KRON4 this is where Cal Fire has been removing several items. It is all to try and figure out what caused the fatal wildfires up in wine country.

The security guards blocking two homes off of Bennett Lane warned KRON4’s Terisa Estacio to keep her distance to only the public road.

Neighbors tell KRON4 the guards have been out in front of the two homes for weeks, just after Cal Fire removed several items from the properties.

In a motion filed by PG&E, it states on Oct. 26, 2017, three in-service, distribution-line fused cutouts were seized.

Two sets of in-service transformers were taken, along with a secondary service line that detached from a home.

It also said that multiple sections of customer-owned overhead conductors were also hauled away for examination.

PG&E is currently facing an onslaught of legal action in connection with the wildfires.

To date, there are 120 plaintiffs.

Lawyers for those suing PG&E peg the utility as the culprit, claiming the company failed to maintain proper clearance as mandated by state regulations. And as the winds whipped upwards of 60-70 miles-an-hour on Oct. 8, sparks from crashing transformers ignited as many as 15 fires throughout wine country.

Forty-three people died in the blazes, 210,000 acres were burned, and 8,900 structures, including homes, were destroyed.

While PG&E is pointing the finger at the private power company whose name is redacted in the motion, other documents reveal that PG&E equipment was also taken by Cal Fire as part of their overall investigation.

A representative with Cal Fire told KRON4 that they have 28 highly trained investigators working to determine the cause of the fire. Those investigators have collectively 1,000 hours of experience in reviewing every angle of the fire to figure out the cause.

The investigators also have law enforcement backgrounds to scour through evidence. And a Cal Fire spokesperson told KRON4 that it is profoundly premature to single out a private power company or PG&E as the cause.

The spokesperson also said that it is baseless, adding that it will take months if not a year to announce a verdict.

PG&E, in the past, has been hit with millions of dollars in fines for not maintaining its lines.

A PG&E spokesperson says they are cooperating with authorities to help figure out the cause.

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