Tubbs Fire Fountaingrove

Terry Sanders/Fountaingrove

Cal Fire Says Private Homeowner, Not PG&E, Caused Tubbs Fire

KCBS Radio Afternoon News
January 24, 2019 - 12:56 pm

The Tubbs Fire that burned across Sonoma County in October 2017, killing 22 people, was caused by a homeowner's electrical system, according to the Cal Fire. 

"Cal Fire investigators did not identify any violations of state law," the department said in a statement on Thursday. 

The investigation determined that PG&E's equipment was not to blame for the inferno that started near Calistoga, destroyed 5,838 buildings and quickly engulfed swathes of Santa Rosa. The complete report is available online

At the time, the Tubbs Fire was the deadliest and most destructive in California's history, but it was surpassed by the Camp Fire, which killed 88 people and razed 13,972 homes.

PG&E has been reeling in recent weeks, The company's chief executive recently resigned as the possibility loomed that the utility would billions of dollars in liabilities from wildfires in 2017 and 2018. Utility officials have filed paperwork indicating they may seek Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. 

The company's stock soared by about 75 percent on Thursday afternoon after Cal Fire announced its findings. 

Despite the state's finding, PG&E released a statement saying the company remains in a precarious position. 

"The devastating and unprecedented wildfires of 2017 and 2018 have had a profound impact on our customers, employees and communities. Regardless of today's announcement, PG&E still faces extensive litigation, significant potential liabilities and a deteriorating financial situation," the statement said. 

Lawyers representing people displaced by the Tubbs Fire in a lawsuit against PG&E told KCBS Radio that they disagreed with Cal Fire's conclusion and believe that the utility's negligence contributed to the flames. 

Reporters Jenna Lane, Doug Sovern and Jason Brooks contributed to this article.