Terry Chea / AP
According to state fire investigators, electrical transmission lines owned and operated by supply giant Pacific Gas and Electric last fall burned the campfire, the deadliest and most destructive forest fire in California's history County, more than 150,000 acres and killed 85 people.
"After a very careful and thorough investigation, CAL FIRE has determined that the campfire was caused by and operated by Pacific Gas and Electricity (PG & E) electrical transmission lines." said in a statement. According to the investigators, the fire had two fires when the second fire in another part of the county was consumed by the first flame near Pulga.
The Cal Fire report was forwarded to Butte district attorney Mike, Ramsey.
The finding was not unexpected. PG & E even pointed to its transmission lines and dry vegetation around it as a potential culprit in a February earnings report.
"In addition to claims for property damage, business interruption, interest and attorney's fees, the utility could be liable for firefighting costs, evacuation costs, medical expenses, personal injury, punitive damages, and other damages under other liability theories, even if the utility was found to be negligent," said Companies.
The Cal Fire The announcement came on the same day that the new CEO of PG & E, Bill Johnson, testified before a State Assembly committee.
"I assumed that PG & E devices caused the fire," he said, as quoted by The Associated Press. "It's a disappointment that this happened, let's not do it again."
In a statement released late Wednesday, the utility said its failure to verify Cal Fire's report was "consistent with previous company statements."
"We continue to work with governments and local communities to make our customers and California safer," the statement added.
PG & E filed for insolvency protection case in January. "Everyone should be aware of PG & E's history of mismanagement, misconduct and failed efforts to improve a sad safety culture over two decades," Newsom said.