Largest California utility reports broken power line near wildfire origin

Largest California utility reports broken power line near wildfire origin
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California's largest utility company says one of its power lines broke near the origin of an ongoing wildfire in the state despite blackouts in the region, but it does not know yet exactly what happened, The Associated Press reported.

The fire is near Geyserville in Northern California. The AP reported that it has burned at least 49 buildings and 34 square miles and resulted in about 2,000 people receiving evacuation orders.

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Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) said Thursday that it did not power down a 230,000-volt transmission line near Geyserville, which malfunctioned shortly before the fire began, according to the AP. On Wednesday night, the utility reported a "broken jumper” wire on a transmission tower. 

The company has filed a report with state officials.

CEO Bill JohnsonWilliam (Bill) Leslie JohnsonPG&E announces .5B settlement for Northern California wildfires California prepares for biggest blackout yet Largest California utility reports broken power line near wildfire origin MORE said that it was too soon to know if its equipment sparked the blaze. He said that the tower was inspected four times over two years and looked like it was in good condition.

“We still, at this point, do not know what exactly happened,” he said at a news conference, according to The Washington Post.

The company said in a statement this week that it may turn off power for more than 200,000 people because of an "offshore wind event" that could increase the threat of wildfires. PG&E previously shut off power earlier this month to almost 800,000 people. 

The utility was blamed for the Camp Fire last year, which killed 85 people. A Cal Fire report from May faulted its equipment in the incident.

As California law states that utilities can be held liable for fires caused by their equipment, PG&E was recently required to pay Northern California towns a combined $1 billion in a settlement for recent fires.