The Latest: Utility finds bullet-riddled gear near wildfire
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — The Latest on California wildfires all times local):
A Northern California utility says it found damaged power lines and other equipment with bullet holes at two sites near where the state’s most destructive wildfire in at least a century is believed to have started.
Pacific Gas & Electric on Tuesday told regulators that inspectors found a broken hook and a “flash mark” on a high-voltage tower, suggesting a power line broke free and made contact with the tower at the same location and time the Nov. 8 fire is believed to have started.
PG&E also told the California Public Utilities Commission that several miles away workers found a fallen power pole and equipment with bullet holes.
Investigators have not determined what caused the wildfire. A growing number of fire victims have filed lawsuits alleging that PG&E’s equipment started the fire that destroyed the town of Paradise and killed at least 86 people.
Insurance claims and cleanup costs associated with California wildfires last month are expected to exceed the record-breaking amounts paid out last year after blazes ripped through the state’s wine country.
California Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones says he will release preliminary claims data Wednesday morning for the three wildfires last month that destroyed 19,000 homes and businesses.
The insurance industry is bracing for payouts exceeding last year’s record $10 billion payments to Northern California fire victims.
The California Office of Emergency Service says it will cost at least $3 billion to clear debris. Most of the work will occur in Northern California, where the Camp Fire destroyed the city of Paradise and killed at least 86 people.
This story has been corrected to show that payments to victims of last year’s Northern California wildfires were $10 billion, not $11.8 billion.