Energy & Environment

California investigators seize PG&E equipment in search for cause of deadly wildfire

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The Zogg Fire went from 400 acres to 7000 acres in a matter of hours, prompting mandatory evacuations in the region.

California fire investigators have seized Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E) equipment as part of a probe into the cause of a deadly wildfire in northern California, according to The Associated Press.

PG&E said the state Department of Forestry and Fire Protection seized electrical equipment in connection with the Zogg Fire, which began in late September. The fire, which began amid high winds, led to the deaths of at least four people and has burned more than 88 square miles, according to the AP. The fire was nearly entirely contained as of Friday.

A 12,000-volt PG&E circuit services the area where the fire began. PG&E said in a filing that its automated equipment “reported alarms and other activity between approximately 2:40 p.m. and 3:06 p.m.”

PG&E said in the filing it does not yet have access to the materials that the fire protection agency has collected in its investigation.

The utility, the largest in America, previously confessed to responsibility for the deaths of 84 people in recent wildfires. Outgoing CEO Bill Johnson pleaded guilty to nearly 100 counts of involuntary manslaughter in connection with a November 2018 fire, which nearly destroyed the entire town of Paradise. The utility went bankrupt in early 2019 and has only recently emerged from it.

Fires connected to PG&E equipment have killed more than 100 people and burned more than 27,000 residential and commercial buildings in 2017 and 2018, according to the AP.

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