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Utility tells state equipment might have caused deadly fire

Associated Press

San Jose, Calif. – California’s largest utility company said its equipment might have caused a fatal wildfire last month in a county in the northern part of the state, the Mercury News reported Saturday.

Investigators for the state have seized some of Pacific Gas & Electric’s gear in connection with the blaze, known as the Zogg fire, the company told state regulators.

In this Sept. 27 photo, a house burns on Platina Road at the Zogg Fire near Ono, Calif. California's largest utility company said its equipment might have caused a fatal wildfire last month in a county in the northern part of the state, the Mercury News reported Saturday.

The blaze broke out Sept. 27 near the Shasta County town of Igo. The Shasta County wildfire began in the vicinity of Zogg Mine Road and Jenny Bird Lane.

“A PG&E SmartMeter and a line recloser serving that area reported alarms and other activity between approximately 2:40 p.m. and 3:06 p.m.” on Sept. 27, PG&E stated in a regulatory filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, according to the Mercury News.

Evidence has emerged that show signs of a fire in that area around the time of the alarms and the other activity.

“Wildfire camera and satellite data on Sep. 27 show smoke, heat or signs of fire in that area between approximately 2:43 p.m. and 2:46 p.m.,” PG&E stated in the SEC filing.

The utility has reported the incident to the state Public Utilities Commission, PG&E stated in its SEC filing.

The Zogg Fire killed four people, injured one person, destroyed 204 structures, and damaged 27, according to Cal Fire.

“Cal Fire informed PG&E that they had taken possession of PG&E equipment as part of CAL FIRE’s ongoing investigation into the cause of the Zogg Fire and allowed PG&E access to the area,” PG&E stated in the SEC filing.

In June, Pacific Gas & Electric confessed Tuesday to killing 84 people in one of the most devastating wildfires in recent U.S. history during a dramatic court hearing punctuated by a promise from the company’s outgoing CEO that the nation’s largest utility will never again put profits ahead of safety.

PG&E CEO Bill Johnson pleaded guilty to 84 felony counts of involuntary manslaughter stemming from a November 2018 wildfire ignited by the utility’s crumbling electrical grid. The blaze nearly wiped out the entire town of Paradise and drove PG&E into bankruptcy early last year.