Pacific Gas & Electric is currently investigating whether a high-voltage power line that malfunctioned minutes before a Northern California wildfire broke out helped fan the flames.
The company filed a report with the state utilities commission saying it found a ‘broken jumper’ wire on a transmission tower around 9.20 pm on Wednesday.
Seven minutes later, the so-called Kincade Fire erupted in Sonoma County, forcing about 2,000 evacuations, burning more homes and leaving huge swathes of the state without power.
PG&E CEO Bill Johnson said it was too soon to know if the faulty equipment started the fire. He said the tower had been inspected four times in the past two years and appeared to have been in ‘excellent condition.’
Just five percent of the fire is contained after 21,900 were burned, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CalFire), the state’s firefighting agency.
Currently, there are seven active wildfires are raging across California that have burned nearly 35,000 acres.
In Northern California, the active fires are the Cabrillo Fire, Kincade Fire, Muir Fire and Nelson Fire. Meanwhile, the Mines Fire, Saddle Ridge Fire and Tick Fire are blazing in Southern California.
Pacific Gas & Electric is currently investigating whether a high-voltage power line that malfunctioned minutes before a Northern California wildfire broke out. Pictured: A fire truck drives by a burning hillside as the Kincade Fire burns a hillside in Geyservilla on Thursday
The company reported that a ‘broken jumper’ wire on a transmission tower around 9.20 pm on Wednesday and the Kincade Fire broke out seven minutes later. Pictured: A building is engulfed in flames at a vineyard during the Kincade fire near Geyserville on Thursday
So far, 2,000 people have been evacuated, 49 homes have been destroyed and 16,000 acres have been burned. Pictured: Flames and smoke rise after a fire broke out at Geyserville town in Sonoma County on Friday
There are currently seven active wildfires in California in the above map: the Cabrillo Fire, Kincade Fire, Muir Fire and Nelson Fire in the north; and the Mines Fire, Saddle Ridge Fire and Tick Fire in the south
Punishing Santa Ana winds pushed the Tick Fire into Los Angeles-area neighborhoods, burning at least six homes and putting as many as 50,000 people under evacuation orders.
In just a few hours, the blaze, one of four in the area, went from scorching a few hundred acres to more than 4,000, according to the Los Angeles County Fire Department.
Only five percent of it was contained as of Friday morning.
The threat of hot, dry, winds driving flames far and wide was met with fleets of aircraft and more than 500 firefighters on the ground, who tried to protect homes where backyards were surrounded by trees and brush.
‘We know of at least six [homes that have burned] but that number may rise,’ Los Angeles County Supervisor Kathryn Barger in a news conference on Thursday night.
‘We cannot let our guard down. We’re going to fight this aggressively.’
About 10,000 structures are threatened, but it is unknown how many have been damaged or destroyed, reported CNN.
No injuries were reported but fire officials say a firefighting helicopter was struck by a bird and its windshield damage, forcing it out of the fight until Friday.
A fire-fighting aircraft drops a red fie retardant after a fire broke out at Geyserville town in Sonoma County on Friday
Punishing Santa Ana winds pushed the Tick Fire into Los Angeles-area neighborhoods, burning at least six homes and putting as many as 50,000 people under evacuation orders. Pictured: Smoke from a wind driven wild fire is seen in the hills of Canyon Country north of Los Angeles on Thursday
Only five percent of the Tick Fire was contained as of Friday morning, according to CalFire. Pictured: A resident covers his face during an evacuation as a wildfire approaches on Thursday in Santa Clarita
Flames and smoke rise after a fire broke out at Geyserville in Sonoma County on Friday
Alejandro Corrales tearfully watched her home burn on a ridge in Canyon Country, taking with it her mother’s ashes, other belongings and possibly a pen full of pet sheep.
Luckily, her daughter managed to take some small pets and all three of her children were safe.
‘You start thinking about all the things you can’t get back,’ Corrales told KCBS-TV.
‘Everything in the house is gone, The panels on one of the pens where we have some rescued sheep was too hot for my daughter to open and so she couldn’t let them out … so I’m probably sure that we lost them, too.’
The Santa Ana winds, with gusts of 45mph to 60mph, are expected to contine through the weekend and into early next week.
Southern California Edison, which cut power to more than 31,000 customers on Thursday, was considering additional power cuts to more than 386,000 customers.
The shutdowns were designed to prevent fierce winds from hurling branches into power lines or toppling them, sparking wildfires.
Meanwhile, the Kincade Fire in Northern California, which began on Wednesday night, had burned 49 buildings and prompted evacuation orders for some 2,000 people in the Geyserville area.
Among those fleeing was 81-year-old Harry Bosworth, who awoke before sunrise Thursday to find a firetruck and firefighters in his driveway. As he and his wife drove off, flames surrounded their driveway and their barn caught fire.
‘I could see the fire coming, so we got the heck out of there,’ Bosworth said after escaping to his daughter’s house in the neighboring town of Healdsburg.
A firefighter sprays water a home burns from the Kincade Fire that ripped through the area near Geyserville on Thursday
Firefighters battle a wind driven wildfire in the hills of Canyon Country north of Los Angeles on Thursday
Thick black smoke fills the sky as firefighters battle a wind driven wildfire in the hills of Canyon Country north of Los Angeles on Thursday
According to CalFire, as of Friday morning, just five percent of the 21,900 acres the Kincade Fire has burned are contained.
The blaze in Sonoma County had burned 25 square miles, whipped up by the strong winds that had prompted PG&E to impose sweeping blackouts in northern and central California.
PG&E said it was preparing to restore power by Friday to 179,000 customers whose power had been shut off.
But the company warned that an even larger power outage may occur as early as Saturday and could affect portions of 33 counties in the San Francisco Bay Area, wine country and Sierra foothills.
Governor Gavin Newsom, a Democrat, is among those who have criticized PG&E and other utilities for the blackouts and their handling of wildfire danger.