PG&E reports problem with transmission tower in area of Kincade Fire

GEYSERVILLE, Calif. (AP) — Pacific Gas & Electric says it had a problem with one of its transmission towers near where a wildfire ignited in Northern California wine country, prompting a large evacuation.

PG&E filed a report with the California Public Utilities Commission Thursday saying it became aware of a transmission level outage in the Geysers in Sonoma County around 9:20 p.m. Wednesday.

The Kincade Fire was reported minutes later in the same area, although it is not clear whether the malfunction sparked the blaze.

The state’s largest utility preemptively shut off power in Northern California on Thursday in a bid to prevent toppled electrical lines from igniting wildfires in dry, hot gusty winds.

Power was shut off to distribution lines but not to transmission lines.

“The wind speeds of concern for transmission lines are higher than those for distribution,” PG&E wrote in Thursday’s release.

By Thursday morning around 7:30 a.m., PG&E says a troubleman was patrolling the area and noticed Cal Fire had taped off the area around the base of the transmission tower.

“On site CAL FIRE personnel brought to the troubleman’s attention what appeared to be a broken jumper on the same tower,” the utility wrote.

PG&E said that same tower had been inspected earlier in the year. CEO Bill Johnson said it appeared to have been “in excellent condition” during the most recent inspection.

In May, Cal Fire reported PG&E transmission lines in Paradise started the deadly Camp Fire.

This story is developing.

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