California Wildfire News
Pacific Gas & Electric has been blamed for starting some of California’s most devastating wildfires. Now it is asking state officials for permission to raise electricity rates to pay for safety improvements and to offset the financial risk of more wildfires.
PG&E, working its way through its second bankruptcy in two decades, isn’t alone in its request. The state’s two other investor-owned utilities — Southern California Edison and San Diego Gas and Electric Company — are seeking similar rate increases, saying they need bigger profits to attract investment given their exposure to liability from fire-related damage claims.
With another wildfire season looming, Gov. Gavin Newsom of California on Friday urged the state Legislature to help Pacific Gas & Electric and other utilities bear the cost of fires started by their equipment.
Mr. Newsom’s announcement came in response to PG&E’s bankruptcy filing in January, which has raised difficult questions about who should pay for the billions of dollars in damage caused by wildfires and how California could reduce the frequency and severity of those fires.
PARADISE — As an uncontrollable wildfire turned the California town of Paradise to ash, air pollution researcher Keith Bein knew he had to act fast: Little is known about toxic chemicals released when a whole town burns, and the wind would soon blow away evidence.
He drove about 100 miles to Paradise, in the Sierra Nevada foothills, from his laboratory at the University of California at Davis, only to be refused entrance under rules that allow first responders and journalists — but not public health researchers — to cross police lines.
PARADISE, Calif. — Paradise Mayor Jody Jones is headed to Washington D.C. on Tuesday to speak to lawmakers on behalf of Camp Fire survivors.
Butte County Supervisors Steve Lambert and Bill Connelly are going with her to question lawmakers about the Camp Fire recovery process and beyond. They're hopeful that federal officials will invest in Paradise's reconstruction, especially when it comes to basic living needs like running water. That is an issue on the mind of Marina Hawkins, a Camp Fire survivor from Paradise.
CHICO — Camp Fire evacuees have largely moved elsewhere in Butte County and not-too-faraway counties including Sacramento, Tehama and Shasta, Federal Emergency Management Agency data shows. A total of 21,854 people from Butte County who applied for FEMA assistance are still living in California while 1,064 evacuees have moved to other states or U.S. territories.
Pacific Gas & Electric, California’s largest utility, has been responsible for wildfires in recent years that destroyed hundreds of thousands of acres. Several proved deadly. One of the biggest fires started near Sacramento in 2015, when a tree that PG&E had failed to maintain hit one of its power lines.
Butte County Health Officer, Dr. Andy Miller, issued a water quality advisory on Tuesday for people living in the Camp Fire affected areas. Miller urges people not to drink or boil tap water.
According to a press release, the health department says that “Information from water authorities indicates the possibility that contamination may be present in home plumbing systems, and therefore, residents should not rely on home water filtration systems as they may not be adequate to provide needed protection.”
Heavy rains on unstable slopes have caused state officials to call a halt to debris cleanup on the Camp Fire-scarred Butte County hillsides. Crews have been placed on standby pending a decision next week on when to restart. In a press statement, CalRecycle officials said the stoppage could continue through March 19.
“The recent string of wet weather has created unsafe conditions with over-saturated soil for debris removal workers and truck drivers while limiting the ability of designated landfills to accept material,” CalRecycle spokesman Lance Klug said in a press advisory.
CHICO — The Aaron Rodgers NorCal Fire Recovery Fund at the North Valley Community Foundation has awarded $177,131 so far in grants to groups providing relief to survivors of the Camp Fire. The 13 grants awarded have included funding for an athletic training facility, yearbooks for high school students and playground equipment, among other things. Rodgers, the Butte County native and Green Bay Packers quarterback, started the fund with a $1 million donation, and the fund now totals over $3 million after hundreds of donations.
Pacific Gas & Electric said Thursday that its equipment had probably caused the Camp Fire, the catastrophic November blaze that destroyed thousands of homes in Paradise, Calif., and killed at least 86 people.
PG&E, which filed for bankruptcy protection in January, said it had recorded a $10.5 billion charge in anticipation of damage claims for that fire, the deadliest in state history. Largely as a result, the company reported a $6.9 billion loss for 2018.
The debris clean-up at the Camp Fire is on hold due to recent severe weather. Clean-up could be delayed a second week with more rain in the forecast. The weather is just one of the challenges facing the hundreds of crews assigned to the project.
PARADISE, Calif. — The latest round of rainstorms and floods have closed two disaster recovery centers in Butte County this week, one in Chico, and the other in Paradise. Churches in the area have worked to help where they can, but even they are feeling the effects of the rain.
PARADISE, Calif. (KCRA) — The state has started clearing millions of tons of debris left from the Camp Fire. The November 2018 blaze is the deadliest and most destructive wildfire in state history.Here's a look at how the cleanup is progressing.
How many properties?
Nearly 11,000 property owners signed right-of-entry agreements with Butte County, which is roughly 80 percent of total impacted property owners, according to CalRecycle.
CHICO, Calif. - The Paradise Guild hosted meetings for Camp Fire survivors in Paradise and Chico Saturday, with special guest, speaker Robert F. Kennedy. Jr. The Paradise Guild lost their hall in the fire, and wanted to give community members a chance to meet key partners in the law firm they have hired, including Kennedy, the son of late Attorney General and presidential candidate Robert Kennedy.
As the one month anniversary to the Camp Fire loomed in December of last year, the Chico Enterprise-Record looked at impacts of the fire that included the donations and help pouring into our community, re-population, the shelters (both official and unofficial) that had sprung to life seemingly overnight and, of course, the nascent plans and hopes of the community to rebuild.
Months later, many of those issues are still at the forefront of recovery efforts, with ever-shifting goals and roadblocks to recovery and success. Survivors have learned to take each day as it comes, changing plans with each new challenge.
OROVILLE — The Butte County Sheriff’s Office on Wednesday identified two more people whose deaths have been attributed to the Camp Fire, the state’s deadliest and most destructive wildfire.
The Sheriff’s Office said the people are Gerald Rodrigues, 74, of Paradise, and William Godbout, 79, of Concow.
Brian Andrews awoke on Nov. 8 to his panicked daughter at his bedside. A fast-moving wildfire that would become the deadliest, most destructive in California's history was heading straight for Paradise.
Andrews, a 52-year-old retired firefighter, had moved into his one-story home in the bucolic Northern California town a decade ago and was slowly renovating it, replacing the vinyl siding with sturdy wood. Now, his 24-year-old daughter was urging him to leave it behind.
After holding steady at 86 for many weeks, the Butte County Sheriff’s Office dropped the death toll of November’s Camp Fire down by one Thursday. Remains thought to belong to two victims were identified as belonging to just one, resulting in a reduction in the number of dead, the sheriff’s office said in a news release.
The sheriff’s office has also listed three as still missing, months after California’s worst wildfire ravaged the town of Paradise.
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) —
Hundreds of Northern California wildfire victims desperate for housing and living in recreational vehicles on their burned-out lots were ordered off their properties Monday after federal authorities threatened to cut off funding for the state's biggest natural disaster cleanup.
The Paradise Town Council unanimously rescinded a two-month-old law allowing residents to live in temporary shelters on their burned-out properties before the lots are cleared and certified safe for habitation. The unanimous vote Monday occurred after an emotional and tense meeting that was the first in Paradise city hall since the Nov. 8 fire destroyed most of the city of 27,000 people.
State fire officials on Thursday announced that the catastrophic Tubbs Fire that ravaged neighborhoods in and around Santa Rosa in the fall of 2017 was caused by a private electrical system, but investigators have not yet determined the cause of the blaze that displaced the Tubbs as the most destructive in state history: last year’s Camp Fire.
That massive wildfire destroyed most of the town of Paradise when it raced into the Sierra foothills community on the morning of Nov. 8, killing 86 people and destroying nearly 14,000 homes in Butte County. Many of the town’s residents were seniors or people with disabilities who had no chance to escape.
Environmental activist Erin Brockovich and Camp Fire survivors rallied at the Capitol on Tuesday to protest PG&E’s recent announcement that it plans to file for bankruptcy at the end of January.
Standing under a banner reading “Justice for ALL Fire Victims” and flanked by wildfire victims and lawyers, Brockovich criticized the planned bankruptcy filing as PG&E’s “go-to move” and called for greater state involvement in PG&E.
New York (CNN Business) Pacific Gas and Electric, facing billions of dollars in claims over the deadly 2018 Camp Fire, is headed to bankruptcy court.
PG&E, the state's largest utility, said Monday it will file for bankruptcy on January 29, after a 14-day waiting period required by California law. It needs to use the bankruptcy process, which will allow it to shed some of its debt, to pay for damages and stay in business to provide gas and electric service to its customers.
JANUARY 03, 2019
Three major insurance companies are suing PG&E over the billions of dollars in claims they expect to face from the Camp Fire.
The lawsuits, by Allstate Insurance Co., State Farm and USAA, represent another potentially staggering blow to PG&E, which has already acknowledged that problems occurred on a high-voltage transmission tower near the spot where the fire started Nov. 8. Multiple lawsuits have already been filed by Camp Fire survivors, and the company is under intense scrutiny by Cal Fire, the Public Utilities Commission and federal prosecutors.
All that’s left of Barbara Beers home outside of Paradise is burned up appliances, ash, and some black skeletal shrubs. But the 66-year-old doesn’t see an apocalyptic landscape: She only sees the natural beauty that that drew her to her home in Concow here in the 1980s.
“I love it, just love it,” she said. “I raised my family here. … I made roots.”
PARADISE, Calif. (AP) — Police in Northern California say they’ll pursue criminal charges against a wildfire cleanup worker who posted photos of himself posing at destroyed properties.
Officials in the devastated town of Paradise said Saturday that the photos and accompanying captions by Rob Freestone are “unacceptable and reprehensible.”
Butte County officials released the name Wednesday of another victim of the Camp Fire: Rose Farrell of Paradise.
She was 99 years old, the oldest person killed in California wildfires this year. One hundred people died in wildfires this year in the state. The youngest was 4-year-old Emily Roberts, who died in the Carr Fire when a fire tornado ripped into her Redding home.
The utility company operating in the heart of the region devastated by the deadly Camp Fire in California was named Wednesday as the target of a class-action lawsuit, which alleged Pacific Gas & Electric bears responsibility for the "unprecedented disaster."
Insurer goes bust from Camp Fire with millions in claims unpaid. How will it affect Paradise homeowners?
Millions of dollars in potential losses from the Camp Fire have ruined a small Merced County insurance company, providing another element of uncertainty for homeowners following the deadliest and most destructive wildfire in California’s history."
The year 2018 has been a record-breaking fire season in California. The Mendocino Complex Fire was the state’s largest, destroying nearly half a million acres. And the Camp Fire was the state’s deadliest with 88 fatalities so far.
The daughter of a man killed in California’s deadliest wildfire is suing Pacific Gas & Electric Co., saying the utility could have prevented the blaze.
Neva Rodrigues filed the lawsuit Wednesday in San Francisco. The lawsuit says a body was found in the burned home where her father, 73-year-old Jerry Rodrigues, lived alone in a Paradise mobile home park.
San Francisco – A storm moving into California on Thursday brought rain that threatened to unleash debris flows in wildfire burn areas and snow that could cause travel problems in the Sierra Nevada
YouTube is teeming with conspiracy theories about the California wildfires. Here's what really may have caused the flames.
The Woolsey and Paradise wildfires brought widespread devastation to California in November, killing more than 90 people and torching 250,000 acres of land.
With the fires now fully contained, residents have returned home to find nothing but scorched foundations. Officials are still on the hunt for hundreds of missing people — a process made more difficult by the onslaught of rain.
After having already faced the wrath of a deadly wildfire, an area in Northern California faced a new problem Thursday: flash-flooding that’s prompted the deployment of water rescue teams, officials said.
After a deluge of rain fell in the Paradise area, people became trapped in their vehicles on a flooded road, necessitating the help of rescue units, The Associated Press reported.
(CNN)A federal judge has ordered California's Pacific Gas & Electric Co. to explain any potential role it played causing the deadly Camp Fire and any other major wildfires in the state, court documents show.
In a court filing, Judge William Alsup of the US District Court for the Northern District of California said the electric utility should also explain whether "reckless operation or maintenance of PG&E power lines" sparked any wildfires and answer additional questions about power line safety and wildfires.