Opinion

The Equipment Of PG&E Is Damaged And Located Near The Source Of The North Bay fires.

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State regulators have revealed previously-disclosed information in reports submitted from Pacific Gas & Electric Co., which reveal the locations of damage to transmission systems close to those that ignited the wildfires that erupted in October.

State regulators have revealed previously withheld information from reports submitted with Pacific Gas & Electric Co. providing the precise locations of damaged transmission equipment close to the ignition points for the wildfires that devastated Sonoma and Napa counties in October.

The documents, including the exact address and types of damaged equipment, offer new information on the closeness of PG&E equipment to sources of the devastating 8th of October.

Cal Fire officials say their investigation isn’t finished, and PG&E officials insist that the cause of the fires was identified. Yet, hundreds of suits have been filed by PG&E claiming that the fires started by gale force winds that sent branches of trees that were overgrown falling into power lines.

The redacted reports were released by California’s Public Utilities Commission late last year, with the specific information regarding the address of the equipment and its details being kept secret to protect the authenticity of the Cal Fire investigation. The PUC has since posted unredacted copies of its reports on its website.

The news that his residence at Nuns Canyon Road in Glen Ellen was identified as the site of a PG&E-owned equipment failure did not surprise Tim Korn.

In most cases, the previous owner of the Relais du Soleil guest ranch was destroyed. He said that the night’s incidents did not leave a trace in his mind as to what started the fire that could eventually become the biggest of the North Coast fires, burning 54,300 acres, degrading 1,355 homes, and killing three people.

“The fire did start at Nuns Canyon when a tree fell on a power pole, and a transformer exploded,” Korn stated. “I know because it woke me up.”

Korn, 75, has owned his guest ranch for over 22 years on the property at 1210 Nuns Canyon Road. The ranch was also home to a metered line that was PG&E and connected to the pump for the well as he described it, and the large tree with branches that hung over the wire, he claimed. He believed the tree’s limbs led to the transformer explosion and the power outage.

After recovering after heart surgery, Korn was initially tempted to go back to sleep. He told reporters. However, he said his family members, including his grandchildren, were asleep in one of the cottages located on the property when they saw the flames and attempted to flee.

“I was the first to report the fire,” Korn stated. “We saw exactly where it came from.”

However, the fire spread quickly and slowed their escape to Highway 12, forcing them to leave further up the rural road, where the family of four stayed for 7 hours in the field, which was in the midst of a fire before they could escape, he claimed.

Korn lost most of his belongings in the fire but didn’t expect the biggest insurance payout because the property is leased, according to “PG&E has been out a bazillion times” to the property. A guard was stationed in the area of Nuns Canyon Road during the few weeks following the fire.

A spokesperson for PG&E, Deanna Contreras, told the media that the utility is cooperating with the investigation. She said the utility is focusing on helping customers to rebuild their homes.

“We’ll let Cal Fire and CPUC investigators do their work, and we’re not going to speculate on the causes of the fires while the investigation is ongoing,” Contreras declared.

In the document, PG&E notes that during conditions of up to 58 mph, it was reported that the alder’s top “broke and fell on an open wire secondary service” at Korn’s address. The report also notes that Cal Fire had taken possession of the “overhead secondary distribution conductors” at issue.

Alongside The Nuns incident, three more fires have been reported to have begun in areas near or at the address where the damaged equipment of PG&E was found. This includes:

4011 Atlas Peak Road, north of Napa, near the suspected beginning of the 51,642-acre Atlas fire;

1721 Patrick Road, west of Napa, close to the site of it is believed that the Patrick flame, which eventually merged into the Nuns fire, was believed to be the place where it began;

1128 Bennett Lane, Calistoga, close to the site, was the 36,807-acre Tubbs fire, the most destructive state fire in history, and was believed to have started.

Jim Frantz, principal of Frantz Law Group, said the latest information supports his belief that the fires resulted from the utility’s inability to maintain the trees and vegetation surrounding its equipment. Frantz claims he represents hundreds of clients pursuing legal action against PG&E, including five cases of wrongful deaths.

“We think their wires came down onto the ground and started the fires,” he added.

PG&E has suggested that power-related equipment “owned, installed, and maintained by a third party” located in Calistoga could cause the Tubbs fire. A report from October. 26 report identifies as 1128 Bennett Lane property as the site in which Cal Fire investigators took possession of “fused cutouts” and a “secondary service line” that “served multiple pieces of customer-owned equipment on the property.”

“No damage to PG&E equipment was readily apparent,” the report says.

Frantz claimed that the “private wire theory” of the utility “private wire theory” was “bogus.”

Cal Fire spokesman Scott McLean said he needs to know what prompted Cal Fire to ask the California Public Utilities Commission to eliminate redactions from the reports.

The evidence-gathering phase of Cal Fire’s investigation into the causes of the fires in October is still ongoing. Still, it doesn’t mean investigators won’t return to the fire’s origin sites to conduct follow-up investigations, McLean said.

Cal Fire has not publicized the cause of one of the fires and will release information regularly until the investigation progresses. McLean explained that there’s no established date for when fire investigations will take. McLean also pointed out that the reason for that 2015 Valley fire – the electrical wiring for the hot tub was revealed “one day less than a year” shortly after the fire broke out.

“Each fire is different,” McLean stated.

Separate teams consisting of Cal Fire investigators have been assigned to each fire. The teams begin largely and then shrink as different elements’ investigations are complete.

The locations in which equipment was found damaged, like Chateau Saint. Jean Winery, in Kenwood, was engulfed by larger fires.

Another one, located on Sullivan Way in Santa Rosa, is near a small fire that destroyed several homes and erupted into the northern reaches of Howarth Park before being extinguished. The fire, however, isn’t considered part of the more extensive wildfires.

MartinTorres

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