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Destructive Tubbs Fire Caused by ‘Private Electrical System,’ Cal Fire Says

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SACRAMENTO -- The Tubbs Fire, which destroyed thousands of homes in Santa Rosa and killed 22 people in October of 2017, was caused by a private electrical system next to a home, Cal Fire said Thursday.

State officials say there did not appear that any laws were violated in relation to how the fire started.

The Tubbs Fire is the second most destructive and third-deadliest wildfire in California history. It burned 36,807 acres of Napa and Sonoma counties.

PG&E issued a statement on Cal Fire's findings later Thursday:

Without question, the loss of life, homes and businesses during these devastating wildfires is heartbreaking, and we remain focused on helping affected communities recover and rebuild. The safety of our customers and the communities we serve is our most important responsibility, and we are committed to assessing our infrastructure to further enhance safety and help protect all of the customers we serve from the everincreasing threat of wildfires.

CAL FIRE has completed its investigation of the 2017 Tubbs Fire and concluded that PG&E facilities did not cause the fire.

The devastating and unprecedented wildfires of 2017 and 2018 have had a profound impact on our customers, employees and communities. Regardless of today’s announcement, PG&E still faces extensive litigation, significant potential liabilities and a deteriorating financial situation, which was further impaired by the recent credit agency downgrades to below investment grade. Resolving the legal liabilities and financial challenges stemming from the 2017 and 2018 wildfires will be enormously complex and will require us to address multiple stakeholder interests, including thousands of wildfire victims and others who have already made claims and likely thousands of others we expect to make claims.

Governor Gavin Newsom said Thursday he was surprised by Cal Fire's report.

"If you weren’t surprised, you would surprise me," he told reporters outside his office. "I think we had all maybe lazily, forgive me, sort of accepted a narrative and it was sort of baked in, it seemed to me, in the conversations I’ve been having."

With responsibility for the Tubbs Fire off of PG&E's plate, it's unclear if the utility will move forward with its plan to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

"That is an open-ended question and that is a question for PG&E," Newsom said.

Still, Newsom was quick to point out that PG&E was still found liable for 17 other wildfires in 2017.

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