On October 8, a day that will live in California infamy, there were over 10 reports of downed power lines and exploding transformers as fires blazed in Northern California. These reports all dealt with equipment handled by utility giant PG&E, a company known for making mistakes and causing fires. Many California residents claimed that PG&E’s electrical equipment started the Wine Country fires. However, PG&E refuted the claims, stating that “hurricane strength” winds were the culprit for downed power lines. However, detailed research and investigations into the weather that night have proven PG&E wrong.
California laws state that power lines must be able to withstand wind speeds of 56 mph. PG&E made claims that the wind speed during the 10 reported electrical instances was up to 75 mph. If this were true, the winds would have been whipping 20 miles over the industry standard (56 mph). There is no doubt that such winds would have major impacts on electrical equipment. However, North Bay weather stations have proven that wind speeds during the incidents were nowhere near the claimed 75 mph.
The three North Bay weather stations showed wind speeds turning in a 30 mph low and a 41 mph high within the time period of the 10 reported incidents. For the sake of argument, even if the wind speeds were 10 mph faster than recorded highs, the speeds would have been maxing at 51 mph, 5 mph less than industry required safety concerns.
This means that if PG&E equipment did fail, it had nothing to do with wind speeds. This is not the first time that PG&E would have started a fire through neglect. In 2015, the Amador County Butte fire burned through 70,868 acres of land, destroying 549 homes while claiming two lives. PG&E was proven as the party responsible for the fire, the igniter: incorrectly maintained power lines.
It seems that history could repeat itself in the NorCal fires.
The only evidence that PG&E could be using to substantiate their claims are the 79 mph gusts at Hawkeye Peak, which occurred 2 hours after the incident. While Hawkeye Peak gusts did reach 79 mph, gusts are dramatically different than sustained wind speeds. Gusts are bursts of wind that only last a couple of seconds, whereas sustained wind speeds in the same area were marked at 48 mph. Neither the gusts nor the sustained wind speeds would have affected electrical poles 22 miles away.
PG&E Is Trying to Hide Behind Half-Truths
PG&E’s claims are not uncommon in investigative situations. State liability claims are important, but the general public can compound on those claims through their own legal actions. If PG&E is found responsible for the NorCal fires, those affected have grounds to sue. However, affected residents have to actually go through the process of filing a claim to make PG&E responsible. If you would like to learn more about your options for recovery after the Napa and Sonoma fires, do not hesitate. Call us today.
Contact (888) 493-1629 for a free consultation today!