Judge Grills PG&E Over Cable That Failed Before Massive Wildfire
A federal judge overseeing the probation of utility giant PG&E Corp. is demanding information on a power line that failed minutes before a massive wildfire broke out last month in Northern California.
U.S. District Judge William Alsup ordered PG&E to respond to several questions about so-called jumper cables after the San Francisco utility giant disclosed that one had broken where the Kincade fire erupted in Sonoma County on Oct. 23. The blaze is still burning north of San Francisco and has damaged or destroyed almost 450 structures.
PG&E’s equipment has already been tied to wildfires that devastated parts of Northern California in 2017 and 2018, saddling the company with an estimated $30 billion in liabilities and forcing it into bankruptcy. Last year, a loose PG&E jumper wire was found to have contributed to the Camp fire, which killed 86 people and destroyed the California town of Paradise.
“What scenarios could plausibly cause a jumper cable to separate from a transmission line during a windstorm?” Alsup asked in his order to PG&E. “Should we now be worried that other jumper cables inspected in the same manner have potential failures that have gone undetected?”
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