PARADISE (CBSLA) – Utility giant Pacific Gas and Electric admitted Thursday that was it likely responsible for starting the Camp Fire which ripped through Northern California’s Butte County last November, destroying thousands of homes and killing dozens of people.
In its fourth-quarter earnings statement, PG&E said it believed that even though the cause of the fire has not been officially determined by state fire officials, the utility’s own equipment was likely to blame.
CAL Fire officials have narrowed down the starting point of the fire to near one of PG&E’s electrical towers.
“Although the cause of the 2018 Camp Fire is still under investigation, based on the information currently known to the company and reported to the California Public Utilities Commission and other agencies, the company believes it is probable that its equipment will be determined to be an ignition point of the 2018 Camp Fire,” the company wrote.
In its earning statement Thursday, PG&E said it has set aside $10.5 billion for third-party claims in connection with the Camp Fire.
The 153,000-acre Camp Fire broke Nov. 8 and tore through the community of Paradise, destroying 18,804 structures – including nearly 14,000 homes – and claiming 86 lives.
In late January, PG&E’s board voted to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in anticipation of its liability in multiple 2017 and 2018 wildfires. Its CEO, Geisha Williams, also resigned. The utility could face at least $30 billion in damages from the wildfires.
CAL Fire has determined that PG&E was responsible for at least 17 of the blazes in the October 2017 firestorm.
However, in January, CAL Fire determined that PG&E was not liable for the October 2017 Tubbs Fire, which scorched 36,807 acres in Sonoma, Napa and Lake counties. That fire was started by a private electrical system, CAL Fire reported.