Cal Fire is blaming the Tubbs Fire on private electrical equipment. The conclusion of the 15-month investigation released today clears Pacific Gas and Electric Company of responsibility.
In a news release, the agency says the largest of the October 2017 wine country wildfires was caused by a private electrical system adjacent to a residential structure. It also says investigators did not identify any violations of state laws or codes related to the cause of the fire.
In response PG&E officials said the company is still in deep trouble despite being cleared. According to a written statement it still faces extensive lawsuits and a deteriorating financial situation because of fires in 2017 and 2018.
State Senator Bill Dodd, a Democrat from Napa, issued a written statement on the Cal Fire: "This underscores the idea that we all have a role to play in wildfire prevention," Senator Bill Dodd said. "Regardless, it doesn’t negate the systemwide issues plaguing PG&E and the need for change in its leadership and culture. Afterall, Cal Fire previously found PG&E responsible for over a dozen Northern California wildfires and the cause of others remains under investigation."
"We still need to understand what this means for PG&E’s financial health and whether it will continue to pursue bankruptcy protection," Senator Dodd said. "As always, my priority will be on preventing future wildfires and protecting Californians from unfair utility rate increases."
Governor Gavin Newsom says more than half of the debt PG&E says it might owe in bankruptcy stems from the Tubbs Fire, so the Cal Fire report puts the bankruptcy plans into doubt.
The Tubbs Fire started on the night of October 8th of 2017 north of Calistoga and ripped through almost 37-thousand-acres, destroyed more than 56-hundred structures in and around Santa Rosa and killed 22 people.
The Tubbs Fire is now listed as the second deadliest and most destructive wildfire in California history behind last November's Camp Fire in Butte County.