Pacific Gas & Electric reported another huge loss on Thursday as the fallout from catastrophic wildfires blamed on its outdated transmission lines drive the bankrupt utility into a deeper hole. The company estimated it's facing a bill of more than $6 billion this year alone to pay for devastating fires in 2017 and 2018, more rigorous inspection of its electrical equipment, and customer credits for recent blackouts designed to prevent more blazes. Additionally, PG&E logged a $2.5 billion settlement with insurance companies for the 2017 and 2018 wildfires, bringing its total charges for the fires during those years to $20 billion, according to a filing with regulators.
It has been one year since the Camp Fire ripped through the town of Paradise, Calif., charring over 150,000 acres, killing 85 people and destroying more than 18,000 homes and businesses. After the fire, which was the deadliest in state history, the population of the town fell from roughly 26,000 residents to just over 2,000 and left many who still lived in nearby communities wondering how safe they really are.
Bert and Jo Lynne Clement rebuild a replica of the home they lost in the deadliest fire in Calif. history.
There was "no way in hell" Victoria Sinclaire was rebuilding in Paradise. Sinclaire and tens of thousands of others in nearby communities fled the wind-whipped inferno that killed 85 people and incinerated roughly 19,000 homes, businesses and other buildings on Nov. 8, 2018. Despite her vow to stay away, Sinclaire's family was one of the first to rebuild, braving the enduring threat of wildfires, and now, repeated power outages as the nation's largest utility tries to prevent its equipment from sparking blazes on windy days like it did in Paradise a year ago.
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While there is no single cause for the perennial infernos that now occur in the Golden State, there are notable factors that are making them worse.
A fresh wildfire is burning on a ridge near the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Southern California's Simi Valley city, forcing officials to order evacuations of the library and nearby homes and close schools.
Close to 200,000 Northern California residents, many of them left in the dark by a third power shutdown in a month, have been ordered to leave their homes as historic winds fueled an explosion of wildfires in the San Francisco Bay Area.
A Northern California wildfire exploded in size early Thursday as dangerously windy weather prompted the state's largest utility to impose electrical blackouts in an effort to prevent fire catastrophes.
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A wildfire fueled by Santa Ana winds has closed two freeways, is threatening homes and has forced evacuations around Los Angeles. Fire officials say the Saddleridge fire had consumed more than 4,600 acres by Friday morning.
Fire Captain Scott McLean said there’s no such thing as a “fire season” in California anymore. He said Cal Fire and the public need to be prepared for wildfires year-round now.
Despite political differences, California Gov. Jerry Brown and Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke acknowledged that many factors contribute to the state’s current wildfire problem, and vowed to work together.
The current wildfires in California, propelled by climate change and years of forest mismanagement, are a tragic example of what we can expect for the foreseeable future.