Investigation finds PG&E lines caused deadly Camp Fire in Butte County

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Electrical transmission lines owned and operated by Pacific Gas and Electricity caused the deadly Camp Fire in Butte County, an investigation concludes. 

Cal Fire announced the results of their investigation on Wednesday, six months after the wildfire that nearly wiped out the town of Paradise. 

Cal Fire deputy director of communications Michael Mohler said Wednesday that he hasn't read the report and doesn't know the nature of the violations. The report was not made public. It was sent to Butte County District Attorney Mike Ramsey.

The Camp Fire started the morning of November 8, 2018, and burned a total of 153,336 acres, destroying 18,804 structures and resulting in 85 deaths and several firefighter injuries. The Camp Fire is the deadliest and most destructive fire in California history.

The fire started in the early morning hours near the community of Pulga in Butte County. Fueled by dry vegetation and red flag conditions consisting of strong winds, low humidity and warm temperatures promoted the fire and caused extreme rates of spread, rapidly burning into Pulga to the east and west into Concow, Paradise, Magalia and the outskirts of east Chico.

The investigation identified a second ignition sight near the intersection of Concow Rd. and Rim Rd. The cause of the second fire was determined to be vegetation into electrical distribution lines owned and operated by PG&E. This fire was consumed by the original fire which started earlier near Pulga.

PG&E's chief executive told California lawmakers that he expected the utility would be blamed, but he was still disappointed that the company he heads caused the state's most destructive wildfire last year.

CEO Bill Johnson was testifying before the California Assembly's Utilities and Energy Committee when state fire authorities made their announcement. The committee was conducting an oversight hearing on PG&E's management.

Johnson took over PG&E on May 1 after former CEO Geisha Williams stepped down and the utility replaced half of its 20-member board of directors. 

The company faces dozens of lawsuits from Camp Fire victims and billions of dollars in potential liabilities. 

The Associated Press contributed to this report