PG&E responds to inquiry on cause of North Bay fires


NORTH BAY, Calif. - Officials said the California wildfires ignited on the night of Oct. 8, and conditions were driven by powerful winds of up to 79 mph. North Coast News inquired whether downed power lines and blown transformers could have initiated the deadly North Bay fires. A PG&E spokesperson responded Wednesday night with the following statement:

"PG&E maintains an unwavering focus on delivering safe and reliable electric and gas service to the customers and communities that we serve. The historic wind event that swept across PG&E's service area late Sunday and early Monday packed hurricane-strength winds in excess of 75 mph in some cases. These destructive winds, along with millions of trees weakened by years of drought and recent renewed vegetation growth from winter storms, all contributed to some trees, branches and debris impacting our electric lines across the North Bay. In some cases we have found instances of wires down, broken poles and impacted infrastructure. Where those have occurred, we have reported them to the CPUC and CalFire. Our thoughts are with all those individuals who were impacted by these devastating wildfires. We want our customers, families and friends to know that we will stand beside them and work together throughout this restoration process."

According to CAL FIRE, the California wildfires have burned more than 170,000 acres altogether. Fire crews also said 3,500 homes and businesses have been destroyed.

Authorities in Northern California have confirmed two more deaths from the wildfires as of Wednesday night, taking the total to 23. The sheriff's office in Sonoma County, where most of the deaths have occurred, said Wednesday night that the toll there has reached 13. The other 10 deaths are dispersed across three other counties. At least 180 people are injured and hundreds have been reported missing.

Right now officials said they are focused on the priority of life so it's just too early to tell. The cause of the fires is under investigation.