PG&E Equipment Failure Caused Lafayette Fires

All News KCBS Radio
November 08, 2019 - 5:52 pm
Harriett Plummer Aquatics Swim School in Lafayette destroyed by fire

Carrie Hodousek / KCBS Radio


Authorities say that the cause of two fires in Lafayette on October 27 was PG&E equipment failure. 

Steve Hill, a spokesman for the Contra Costa County Fire Protection District, told KCBS Radio that investigators have ruled out other likely causes of the fires.

"According to our fire marshal and the investigative reports of the fire investigation unit, those two fires were both caused by power lines,” Hill said. 

The fires broke out at a time when PG&E had deliberatley cut power in many parts of the Bay Area and Northern California due to a high risk of wildfires. The company feared that strong winds would knock down power lines, sparking flames in dry, warm conditions. 

However, Hill said authorities believe PG&E did not turn off electricity in this part of Lafayette. 

"Of course, we were going through a Public Safety Power Shutoff, so there were fairly sizeable parts of the county that had been shut down at that point,” Hill said. “In this case, it's pretty safe to say that given the cause that we found for the fires that the power for that equipment was not shut down."

Hill credited residents of houses adjacent to the fires for trimming weeds and brush. Those homes would have been“threatened, if not damaged or destroyed" if there had been more growth, Hill aid. 

PG&E equipment also found to be the cause of the Camp Fire that started one year ago on November 8, 2018, killing 86 people. 

Reporting by KCBS Radio's Jim Taylor.

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