Power company's equipment sparked California's most deadly and destructive wildfire, officials say

/ CBS News

The lasting damage of California's worst fire

The deadly Camp Fire that roared through Paradise and other Butte County communities in Northern California was caused by electrical transmission lines owned and operated by Pacific Gas & Electric Company (PG&E), state officials announced Wednesday. The blaze killed 85, destroyed 18,804 structures and charred 153,336 acres, CBS San Francisco reports.

The wildfire — the deadliest and most destructive fire in California history — started in the early morning hours of Nov. 8, 2018, near the community of Pulga in Butte County.

The tinder dry vegetation and Red Flag conditions consisting of strong winds, low humidity and warm temperatures promoted this fire and caused extreme rates of spread, rapidly burning into Pulga to the east and west into Concow, Paradise, Magalia and the outskirts of east Chico, Cal Fire officials said.

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The investigation identified a second ignition sight near the intersection of Concow Rd. and Rim Rd. The cause of the second fire was determined to be vegetation into electrical distribution lines owned and operated by PG&E. This fire was consumed by the original fire which started earlier near Pulga.

Wildfires tear through Northern, Southern California 65 photos

During 2018, there were more than 7,571 wildfires that burned over 1.8 million acres within the state of California.

The Camp Fire investigative report has been forwarded to the Butte County District Attorney Mike Ramsey.

The nation's largest utility filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in January as it faced tens of billions of dollars in potential liability costs related to wildfires in 2017 and 2018, according to The Associated Press.

First published on May 15, 2019 / 6:04 PM

© 2019 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Wildfires tear through Northern, Southern California

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