Judge blames uninsulated power conductors for deadly California wildfires

Judge blames uninsulated power conductors for deadly California wildfires

A federal judge in California says that uninsulated power conductors owned by a local utility company were the cause of several wildfires that state agencies battled across California since 2017.

U.S. District Court Judge William Alsup found that equipment from utility company Pacific Gas and Electric was the cause of some wildfires due to tree limbs and other debris knocking uninsulated power conductors together, NBC News reports. 

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"The Court tentatively finds that the single most recurring cause of the large 2017 and 2018 wildfires attributable to PG&E’s equipment has been the susceptibility of PG&E’s distribution lines to trees or limbs falling onto them during high-wind events," Alsup's order reads, according to NBC.

"The power conductors are almost always uninsulated. When the conductors are pushed together by falling trees or limbs, electrical sparks drop into the vegetation below. During the wildfire season when the vegetation is dry, these electrical sparks pose an extreme danger of igniting a wildfire," he added.

Wildfires have damaged thousands of homes and killed dozens of people in the state over the past several years, including the massive Camp Fire that was contained by officials late last year after damaging 14,000 homes and killing 86 people.

Pacific Gas and Electric told NBC in a statement that it was reviewing the judge's ruling and was committed to following "all rules and regulations that apply to our work."

"PG&E’s most important responsibility is the safety of our customers and the communities we serve. We are aware of Judge Alsup’s latest order and are currently reviewing," PG&E said, according to NBC.

"We are committed to complying with all rules and regulations that apply to our work, while working together with our state and community partners and across all sectors and disciplines to develop comprehensive, long-term safety solutions for the future."