SAN FRANCISCO (AP) Fire investigators looking into what caused a wildfire that killed four people in far Northern California have taken possession of equipment belonging to Pacific Gas and Electric, the utility reported Friday.
PG&E said in a filing with the Public Utilities Commission that investigators with the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection seized some of its electrical equipment near where the Zogg Fire started Sept. 27.
The fire erupted in Shasta County during high winds and quickly grew, killing four people in the tiny community of Igo. It later spread to neighboring Tehama County. As of Friday it had scorched 88 square miles (nearly 228 square kilometers) and destroyed more than 200 buildings, about half of them homes. It was almost fully contained Friday.
The utility said it does not have access to the evidence collected by Cal Fire, which has yet to determine a cause for the fire.
It added that the area where the fire started is served by a PG&E distribution line that reported trouble the day the blaze ignited.
Customers in the area where the fire started, near Zogg Mine Road and Jenny Bird Lane north of Igo, are served by a 12,000-volt circuit. On the day the Zogg Fire began its automated equipment in the area “reported alarms and other activity between approximately 2:40 p.m. and 3:06 p.m.,” PG&E told regulators. The line was then de-activated.
PG&E, the nation’s largest utility, recently emerged from bankruptcy caused by financial fallout from several devastating wildfires caused by its utility equipment that destroyed more than 27,000 homes and other buildings in 2017 and 2018 and killed more than 100 people.
PG&E said in a statement that it is cooperating with the investigation.
“We recognize the tragic losses sustained as a result of this year’s fire season and are thankful, as always, for the efforts of the first responders who have worked tirelessly to contain the fires and protect the lives and property of California residents,” the statement said.