Fires

PG&E says its equipment may have caused a fourth California fire in the past week

Pacific Gas and Electric Co. said Wednesday its equipment has been linked to a fourth fire in the past week, adding to the utility’s troubles.

PG&E, in an incident report filed with the California Public Utilities Commission, said its equipment is being investigated as the “potential ignition point” for the Cypress Fire. The small fire burned Sunday in the Contra Costa County city of Oakley.

Few details were immediately available. The East Contra Costa Fire Protection District reported on Twitter that four separate fires erupted in its territory early Sunday, including the Oakley fire, and were contained within hours.

The company said the Oakley area wasn’t part of a fire threat zone so power wasn’t shut off. PG&E has instituted three major blackouts in the past week to reduce fire danger as strong winds kicked up.

PG&E has already told the PUC that a transformer line malfunctioned near the spot where the Kincade Fire ignited a week ago. The fire has burned 76,285 acres and prompted evacuation orders for about 190,000 Sonoma County residents, although containment has grown and thousands have been allowed to return home.

In addition, its equipment has been linked to two small fires in Lafayette over the weekend. The utility was forced into bankruptcy by the 2017 and 2018 wildfires and is under intense scrutiny from California officials to prevent more big fires.

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Dale Kasler covers climate change, the environment, economics and the convoluted world of California water. He also covers major enterprise stories for McClatchy’s Western newspapers. He joined The Bee in 1996 from the Des Moines Register and graduated from Northwestern University.
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