Investigators determine Camp Fire was caused by PG&E transmission lines

CAL FIRE investigators determined that the Camp Fire was caused by the malfunction of PG&E transmission lines in the Pulga area.

Posted: May 15, 2019 1:50 PM
Updated: Nov 15, 2019 4:20 PM

UPDATE 5:17 p.m. Wednesday, May 15, 2019 - PG&E responded to CAL FIRE's findings that the utility company is responsible for the Camp Fire.

Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) today issued the following statement in response to the release of information by the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CAL FIRE) regarding the November 2018 Camp Fire:

CAL FIRE announced today that it has determined that PG&E electrical transmission lines near Pulga were a cause of the Camp Fire. PG&E 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. 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. 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.

We remain committed to working together with state agencies and local communities to make our customers and California safer. We are actively working toward this commitment through our comprehensive Community Wildfire Safety Program, which includes:

• Real-time monitoring and intelligence

• Enhanced vegetation management practices

• Re-inspections of our critical electric infrastructure in high fire-threat areas

• Building a more resilient electric system

• Proactively shutting down power based on extreme conditions


BUTTE COUNTY, Calif. - CAL FIRE investigators determined that the Camp Fire was caused by the malfunction of PG&E transmission lines in the Pulga area.

The fire started in the early morning hours of Nov. 8, in Pulga. 

The fire, which would be known as the most destructive in the state's history, burned a total of 153,336 acres and destroyed 18,804 structures. The fire also killed 85 people. 

The investigation identified a second ignition sight near the intersection of Concow Road and Rim Road. The cause of the second fire was determined to be vegetation into electrical distribution lines owned and operated by PG&E. 

The investigative report on the cause of the Camp Fire has been forwarded to Butte County District Attorney Mike Ramsey. 

Ramsey said that the investigation into how and why the PG&E transmission line equipment failed is an ongoing effort. Investigators are looking to determine whether the utility or any of its personnel have any criminal liability. 

State Senator Jim Nielsen issued the following statement in regards to the findings: 

This finding is not a surprise. This conclusion by CAL FIRE investigators was anticipated. Survivors of the Camp Fire are putting their lives back together. Six months after the fire, many continue to go through the rubbles to savage remnants of their memories. The people of Butte County are hopeful and resilient. Together, we must proceed to put the community back, and PG & E must be a responsible participant in this rebuild effort.

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