California wildfires: Newsom issues proclamation, Kincade fire may have been sparked by transmission line
CaliforniaGov. Gavin Newsom on Friday afternoon issued an emergency proclamation for Sonoma and Los Angeles counties due to the effects of the Kincade and Tick fires, which have “destroyed structures, threatened homes, & caused the evacuation of tens of thousands of residents.”
Meanwhile, the state utility that has been criticized for imposing blackouts in order to prevent such wildfires says a transmission line that it didn’t shut off may have been the source of a blaze that on Friday was raging out of control in the Golden State.
Firefighters with Cal Fire examine a burned down low voltage power pole during the Tick Fire, Thursday, Oct. 25, 2019, in Santa Clarita, Calif. An estimated 50,000 people were under evacuation orders in the Santa Clarita area north of Los Angeles as hot, dry Santa Ana winds howling at up to 50 mph (80 kph) drove the flames into neighborhoods (AP Photo/ Christian Monterrosa)
The Kincade fire near the Northern California town of Geyserville so far has burned at least 49 buildings and 34 square miles and prompted evacuation orders for some 2,000 people.
It was driven by the strong winds that had prompted Pacific Gas & Electric to impose sweeping temporary blackouts affecting a half-million people in Northern and Central California. PG&E resorted to the shutoffs after fallen power lines and other electrical equipment were blamed for several blazes in recent years.
Brandon Mani covers his face from the smoke created by a wildfire as he walks along Highway 14 Thursday, Oct. 24, 2019, in Santa Clarita, Calif. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)
However, PG&E said Thursday it didn’t de-energize a 230,000-volt transmission line near Geyserville that malfunctioned minutes before the fire erupted Wednesday night. The company reported finding a “broken jumper” wire on a transmission tower that evening.
Vines surround a burning building as the Kincade Fire burns through the Jimtown community of unincorporated Sonoma County, Calif., on Thursday. (AP)
PG&E CEO Bill Johnson said it was too soon to know if the faulty equipment ignited the fire, adding that the tower had been inspected four times in the past two years and appeared to have been in excellent condition.
In shutting off the electricity, PG&E cut power to the distribution lines that supply homes, but not to its long-distance transmission lines.
Firefighters try to put out a residence fire caused by a wildfire Friday, Oct. 25, 2019, in Santa Clarita, Calif. An estimated 50,000 people were under evacuation orders in the Santa Clarita area north of Los Angeles as hot, dry Santa Ana winds howling at up to 50 mph (80 kph) drove the flames into neighborhoods(AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)
The disclosure comes after a PG&E worker was targeted in an attempted attack earlier this week, officials said.
Cows stand on a ridge as the Kincade Fire approaches in unincorporated Sonoma County, Calif., on Thursday. (AP)
In that incident, the worker’s front passenger seat window was reportedly shot at by a projectile. The employee was not injured in the incident and the projectile was believed to be fired by a pellet gun.
PG&E President and CEO Bill Johnson had called the incident a “deliberate attack” and called on communities to stop such acts of “violence,” according to SFGate.
Fox News’ Gerren Keith Gaynor and The Associated Press contributed to this report.