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PG&E Had Problem With Transmission Line Minutes Before Fire Started

Carrie Hodousek
November 09, 2018 - 11:53 am

Although the cause of the massive fire in Butte County is unknown, Pacific Gas & Electric officials revealed that they experienced a problem on a transmission line minutes before the fire broke out on Thursday morning, the Associated Press reported. 

PG&E filed a brief summary of the incident with state regulators that said the company experienced an outage about 15 minutes before the fire and later found damage to its transmission tower near Paradise. KQED first reported the filing with the California Public Utilities Commission.

Earlier on Friday, officials announced that they had recovered the remains of five people from vehicles that were "overcome by" the raging fire in Butte County, the sheriff's department there announced on Friday morning. 

The so-called Camp Fire, which has grown to more than 70,000 acres, is moving quickly and making it difficult for officials to search for other victims. 

"There are many hazards in areas where fatalities have been reported," the Butte County Sheriff's Department said in a statement, warning that they expect to find additional victims. 

The five victims have not been identified, but were found near Edgewood Lane in the devastated small city of Paradise. 

Investigators will try identify the victims and determine the circumstances of their deaths.

The combination of parched vegetation and high winds led the fire to grow rapidly.  

"It was like Dante's Inferno," said Paradise resident Eric, who was crying because he was unable to rescue his cat. "I didn't believe that it could burn up the whole town in just three hours." 

The fire has burned an estimated 2,000 structures and led authorities to order the evacuation of 52,000 people.

Shirley, another Paradise resident, told KCBS Radio that ithere was a thick cloud of smoke as she drove to safety. 

"I kept thinking is it day or night, because it was that black," she said. "I've never seen a fire like that."

Firefighters had contained five percent of blaze.

Megan Goldsby conributed to this report.