PG&E Maxes Out Revolving Credit as Wildfire Liabilities Loom

Sheila Mcguire
November 15, 2018

Recent drought conditions in California contributed to the rapid escalation of fires in the state, according to a manager of the National Fire Protection Association.

Most of those who remain unaccounted for are from Paradise, which was once home to 27,000 people but was largely incinerated last Thursday night in the killer blaze, dubbed the Camp Fire.

Most of the fatalities have been reported from the town of Paradise, population 26,000, in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada mountains about 130 kilometres north of Sacramento.

Although President Donald Trump tweeted without evidence on Saturday that "gross mismanagement of the forests" was the reason for the "massive, deadly and costly forest fires in California", experts have pointed to high winds that helped flames spread quickly, and noted the role of climate change in the risky fires, reported The Mercury News.

Three portable morgue teams have been requested from the U.S. military along with a "disaster mortuary" crew and three groups of forensic anthropologists. Two utility companies, Southern California Edison and Pacific Gas & Electric, reported to regulators they experienced problems with transmission lines or substations in areas around the time the blazes were reported to have started.

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The lawsuit alleged that PG&E failed to properly maintain, fix and replace its equipment and that "its inexcusable behavior contributed to the cause of the 'Camp Fire'".

Aided by diminished winds and rising humidity levels, fire crews had managed by late Tuesday to carve containment lines around more than a third of both fires, easing further the immediate threat to life and property.

"I was like, 'I think I'm done, '" said Allyn Pierce, a nurse who fled the fire in Paradise in his truck. Authorities said the blaze has grown in size to 215 square miles and destroyed almost 9,000 homes.

At the other end of the state, firefighters made progress against a massive blaze that has killed two people in star-studded Malibu and destroyed well over 400 structures in Southern California.

Chaplains accompanied some coroner search teams that visited dozens of addresses belonging to people reported missing.

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Evacuations are highest across Los Angeles County, with 170,000 across the county evacuated from their homes by officials.

Overall, 10 sets of remains were found in Paradise and three in neighboring Concow.

"If my dad hadn't have come home from work when he did, I probably wouldn't have gotten out of there, because I wouldn't have known", Bush said. Jones said her family is now living in their mobile home parked in a vacant lot. State fire investigators have blocked access to the area, which is considered a crime scene.

The number of people evacuated was down by about half from the day before, to around 100,000, authorities said, and the fire was partially contained. Another Paradise, CA resident who was not part of the first group to sue the utility company said she plans to do so.

"It was so fast", Dise recounted of the fire.

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"Look for skulls, the big bones", one forensics worker said to others as they used metal poles and their hands to sift through ruins.

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