Although PG&E cut off power in the area Wednesday afternoon, amid dangerous weather, sections of the company's high-voltage power lines – which were responsible for the state's deadliest fire ever – were still operating in the area when the fire broke out. , the utility company
In a report filed with the California Public Utilities Commission, PG&E says it learned of a transmission tower malfunction at 9:20 pm Wednesday. The fire started at 9:27 PM, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.
PG&E CEO Bill Johnson said the company was conducting an internal investigation but did not take responsibility for the fire, adding that employees did not know exactly how it started.
"At this point, we do not know exactly what happened," he told a news conference.
After it broke out late Wednesday night, the fire quickly spread. More than 1
6,000 acres were charred Thursday night. At one point, it was growing at a rate of 30 football fields per minute. Authorities battled strong winds Thursday, and the fire was left almost completely unchecked by nighttime rainfall, state officials said. No injuries were reported, but nearly 50 structures were damaged or destroyed.
Meanwhile, 400 miles south of a rapidly expanding fire is burning through Canyon County, in northwest Los Angeles County, spanning over 5,000 acres by Thursday evening.
Forecasters expect conditions throughout California to deteriorate in the coming days, and PG&E warned that more breaks will ensue, a desperate hedge against further fire risk. The company said the next round of outages could start on Saturday and will be "the largest" of those earlier this month, the widest planned power outage ever.
With the expansion of the Kincade fire, the Sonoma County Sheriff's Office ordered mandatory evacuations, including for the entire Geyserville community, and closed several major roads.
"This is not the time to stay," Sonoma County Sheriff Mark Esick told a news conference. "This is the moment to go on."
While wildfire ignited Sonoma and others spread to San Bernardino, Los Angeles County and elsewhere Gov. Gnews (D) slams against Gov. all three state-owned energy companies, including PG&E, which has already been forced to bankrupt billions of dollars in liability claims stemming from previous fires.
"I have to admit, this is beyond words," Newsom said, accusing utilities of neglecting their infrastructure and leaving the state vulnerable to fires caused by outdated power lines.
His statements echo those he made. weeks earlier when PG&E turned off the power to close to one million customers.
"It's more than climate change and climate change, but it's more than that," Newsom says. "As far as PG&E goes, a question about dog-eat-dog capitalism welcoming the change climate, it's about corporate greed facing climate change, it's decades of mismanagement. "
Newsom sent a letter Thursday to the CEOs of San Diego Gas & Electric Company, Edison International and PG&E demanding better communication about when utilities services will introduce safety interruptions.
"The only consistency is non-compliance," he writes.
In this case, PG&E interrupts its lower voltage distribution lines, which are more vulnerable to wind but maintain their higher voltage transmission lines, said Johnson, commander of the utility.
He said the tower, which had collapsed, is 43 years old, which, he says, is "Johnson said he has been inspected four times in the last two years.
"It appears to have been in excellent condition, having recently been checked," he said.
The state's electrical infrastructure will be tested for the next few days. Northern and Southern California weather forecasts were ominous, foreshadowing more delays and, perhaps, more fires. The National Weather Service has said that "pockets of critical fire time" are likely.
The NWS issued red flag warnings Thursday for much of the San Francisco Bay Area, including the region where the Kinkade fire burns, as sea breezes dry air and create conditions for tinkering.
Wind gusts, known as El Diablo winds, carry extremely dry air, with relative humidity dropping to single digits in some cases, making the fire particularly difficult. Forecasters expect a second round of these winds to blow in much of California in the coming days.
Meanwhile, southern California is projected to have an "extremely critical" fire risk with strong offshore winds, known there as Santa Ana, winds, Friday through 19 km in parts of Ventura and Los Angeles.
"Fuels and vegetation are critically dry. The expected weather will create an environment ripe for big and dangerous fire growth, especially on Thursdays and Fridays, ”writes the NWS forecast office in Los Angeles.
True to forecast, the teak fire appeared in Los Angeles County on Thursday afternoon and continued to grow rapidly – and completely misunderstood – until the evening. Local media video shows a fire coming down into the Canyon Country neighborhood; the flames move continuously to the homes as the inhabitants flee.
Thursday's raging fires, along with Sadlerge's blaze earlier this month and the Tennage fire in September, signaled another dangerous fire season in California, where historic-sized fires have become commonplace.
Last year, the Campfire devastated Paradise and killed 85 people, and the Woolsey Fire devastated 100,000 acres north of Los Angeles and killed three. In 2017, the Tubbs fire broke through Santa Rosa – near where Kincade burns – and killed 22 people.
By now, Californians were already accustomed to the telltale signs of a fire: the glowing red hills, the sky gray with smoke and ash, and the dire warnings of air quality.
"This is the new normal state we live in," says David Hagel, mayor of Healdsburg, south of Geyserville, before the San Francisco Chronicle. "This is desperate and scary for many because it brought back a lot of terrible memories from a few years ago."