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PG&E Could Be to Blame For Sparking Camp Fire In Butte County

SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — PG&E has been at fault for several deadly wildfires across the state, and now the company may also be to blame for the Camp Fire.

"We have eyes on the vegetation fire," said one firefighter in a call to dispatch. "It's going to be very difficult to access Camp Creek Road, it's nearly inaccessible."

Thursday morning at 6:43 a.m., Butte County firefighters called dispatch after seeing flames across the Feather River from Poe Dam.

"It is on the west side of the river, underneath the transmission lines," the firefighter went on to say. "Probably about 35 mph sustained wind on it."

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CBS13 obtained a report that PG&E made from the California Public Utilities Commission. It described an incident at 6:15 a.m., 28 minutes before that call from firefighters. It read: "PG&E experienced an outage on the Caribou-Palermo 115 kV Transmission line in Butte County."

CalFire records show the Camp Fire started at 6:33 a.m., just 18 minutes later.

"This was a devastating fire," said Butte County Sheriff Kory Honea in a press conference on Friday."And if you've been up in this area, you know that you know how quickly it came through the Paradise area."

Thursday's report also said PG&E noticed that a tower on the Caribou-Palermo power line was damaged, just one mile northeast of Pulga: the exact origin of the Camp Fire.

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A PG&E spokesperson told CBS13: "Nothing is more important than the safety of our customers, employees, contractors and the communities we serve. The cause of the Camp Fire has not yet been determined. PG&E has provided an initial electric incident report to the Safety and Enforcement Division of the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC). The information provided in this report is preliminary and PG&E will fully cooperate with any investigations."

The California Public Utilities Commission is working with CALFire and CALOES to monitor fire conditions. A spokesperson says the company will consider PG&E's report in its investigation. And once it's safe, investigators will inspect the location where the fire began.

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