In the wake of the holiday season, a lot of us are feeling refreshed after spending time off, visiting with family, and celebrating the new year. Unfortunately, not all Californians had the privilege of a happy holiday. On November 8th, the infamous Camp Fire started and tore through Northern California for 17 days, ending after Thanksgiving. The fire killed almost 50 people, destroyed over 6,000 homes, and caused close to 10 billion dollars of damage.
As investigators look into this tragedy, they believe the main suspect is the power source of a large portion of Northern CA: PG&E. Here is a timeline that gives an overview of Camp Fire and how our local utility provider, PG&E, has become involved.
- November 7th, a resident of Paradise, California, received an email from PG&E saying that repairs had to be done on their property due to reported hazardous sparks
- November 8th, Camp Fire begins in Paradise, California
- November 8th, PG&E declines to comment whether they had contacted a resident about problems with sparks but does not deny that their negligence caused the fire
- November 13, a lawsuit against PG&E is filed by residents, on the grounds that Camp Fire was due to “direct and legal result of the negligence, carelessness, recklessness, and/or unlawfulness”
- November 14, PG&E releases a statement saying that if they are found liable in this suit, they do not have enough insurance to cover the costs
- November 15, the head of California’s Public Utility Commission takes a stance to bailout PG&E if need be, by passing costs of the wildfire onto its customers
- November 25, Camp Fire is 100% contained
- December 21, three major insurers file a lawsuit against PG&E due to the amount of insurance claims caused by Camp Fire
- January 4, “Project Falcon” is leaked, exposing how PG&E is considering selling some of its real estate as well as its natural gas division to avoid bankruptcy
While this story is still developing, Cal Fire, the statewide fire relief agency, is yet to determine the cause of Camp Fire. The Public Utilities Commission is also conducting an investigation into PG&E’s safety practices, and is seemingly less willing to allow a bailout – but only time can tell. Many environmentalists are using this opportunity to speak out against a utility monopoly and PG&E’s reluctance to move away from fossil fuels.
Real photo from ABC 7 News