The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CAL FIRE) has finished their investigations into the cause of the North Bay Wildfires that occurred in October 2017. They have concluded that 12 fires were caused by electrical and distribution lines owned by PG&E, as well as power pole failures.
The October fires combined to burn nearly a quarter million acres of land, firefighters from all over CA, 10 other states, and the country of Australia worked together to battle the flames. The full release PDF is available here.
The Redwood Fire started in two locations, both caused by trees impacting PG&E equipment. The fire resulted in 543 destroyed buildings, 36,000 acres burned and 9 fatalities.
20 acres burned in the Blue Fire in Humboldt. CAL FIRE determined the cause was a power line conductor which fell to the ground and started a fire. CAL FIRE investigations results for the Blue Fire were turned over to local District Attorneys due to possible PG&E state law violations.
The Lake County Sulfur Fire burned 162 buildings and 2,200 acres, the cause was determined a PG&E power pole and equipment falling to the ground and starting a fire. CAL FIRE investigations results for the Sulphur Fire were turned over to local District Attorneys due to possible PG&E state law violations.
The Cherokee Fire burned 8,400 acres and 6 structures. The fire was started by PG&E power lines struck by trees.
The 37 Fire burned 1600 acres and 3 buildings. The cause of the 37 Fire was determined to be PG&E distribution line equipment.
17,000 acres and 6 buildings were burned by the Pocket Fire throughout Sonoma. The cause of the fire was PG&E power lines contacting an oak tree. CAL FIRE investigations data fro the Pocket Fire will be shared with Sonoma District Attorneys due to possible PG&E state law violations.
51,000 acres and 783 buildings were burned by the Napa Atlas Fire, with 6 fatalities. The cause of the Atlas Fire was a single power line contacting trees in two locations, starting two fires that merged. Investigations results for the Atlas Fire will be shared with Napa County District Attorneys due to possible PG&E state law violations.
The Adobe, Norrbom, Nuns, Patrick and Pythian fires combined into a single fire frequently called simply the Nuns fire in the media. CAL FIRE investigated the start of each of the 5 fires which burned a combined 1355 buildings and over 56,000 acres, also causing three civilian deaths.
The Adobe Fire was caused by a PG&E power line contacting a tree. CAL FIRE evidence included possible state violations by PG&E.
The Norrbom Fire was also caused by a PG&E power line contacting a tree. State violations by PG&E were noted.
The Nunes Fire was caused by PG&E power lines coming into contact with a tree.
The Patrick Fire was caused by PG&E power lines coming into contact with a tree, the same as the Nunes Fire, Norrobom Fire, and Adobe Fire. State law violations by PG&E were noted.
The Pythian Fire was caused by PG&E equipment designed to fire to restart power lines. The PG&E equipment had fallen to the ground, and the devices intentionally fired until they started a fire.
PG&E is under investigation in particular for using these systems during high wind and failing to turn them off or disable them from starting wildfires. The Pythian Fire would merge with the Nuns and other nearby fires to destroy thousands of buildings and resulted in 3 fatalities.
Possible violations of state law by PG&E were discovered by CAL FIRE during the Pythian Fire investigation.
Of the 12 fires CAL FIRE discussed in the release, in 8 cases CAL FIRE notes evidence of alleged violations of state law. CAL FIRE states they are turning over investigations to local District Attorney’s offices for review. A possible result is potential criminal charges against PG&E, similar to the criminal charges filed against the company when it blew up a residential street in San Bruno.
Levin Simes Abrams are experienced lawyers working with clients on PG&E Wildfire claims. Levin Simes Abrams is partnering with top insurance legal firms to ensure claims are paid on-time and in full. Contact a North Bay Wildfire lawyer at 1-888-426-4156, email us at [email protected], or start a chat here on this page.