PG&E equipment possibly involved in 400+ fires

Fire incident reports filed by Pacific Gas & Electric show its equipment may have contributed to more than 400 fires in Northern and Central California in 2018.

PG&E incident reports obtained by 2 Investigates shows PG&E equipment may have ignited more than 400 fires in California last year.

This is according to data obtained by 2 Investigates through a public records request to the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC). The regulator requires PG&E and other large investor-owned utilities to submit information on these "reportable events" to improve regulations and prevent future fires. 

Looking at Sonoma County, which is currently affected by the Kincade Fire, the data shows PG&E reported its possible involvement in more than 20 fires in the area in 2018. 

All of those incidents were relatively small vegetation fires in rural areas. All but one caused a power outage, and most of them involved a PG&E conductor making contact with another object. There were five instances where equipment or facility failure may have sparked the ignition. 

On Thursday, PG&E filed its latest incident report with the CPUC in regards to the Kincade Fire. In the report, PG&E revealed a broken jumper wire was found on a transmission tower in the area of the wildfire. 

Soon after the report's release PG&E's CEO Bill Johnson provided context and said the preliminary information in the incident report does not show what caused the fire or where it started.

"We filed the report with the regulator and are sharing it with you out of a sense of transparency," Johnson said on Thursday. 

PG&E did not respond to 2 Investigates' request for comment on this story. In a past statement, a utility spokesman said PG&E recognizes it needs to take a leading role in reducing wildfire risk.