Started by sparking power lines, the Camp Fire raced through Paradise, California, in under 4 hours.
The Camp Fire began in the early morning hours of November 8, 2018, and burned for over two weeks. Northern California was amid a multi-year drought when a sparking power line, maintained by Pacific Gas and Electric, set fire to the forest. Within 4 hours of the fire starting, the fire had burned through the town of Paradise; in the first two days, it burned over 100,000 acres. At the height of its speed, the Camp Fire burned the length of 80 football fields, which is about 4.5 miles, in one minute.
Thousands of people were evacuated as the Camp Fire raced through Paradise. Eighty-five people were killed by the blaze. The rapid speed at which the Camp Fire spread gave residents of Paradise little to no notice of evacuation. Many of the deceased died as they tried to escape the fire in their cars. Those who were able to leave often traveled through heavy smoke as the chaotic evacuation ensued. At least 18,800 structures, including 14,000 residences, were destroyed in the Camp Fire. Over 5,000 firefighters from multiple states were dispatched to respond to the fire; and 153,335 total acres were burned. Insurance claims for losses totaled around $8.4 billion.
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PG&E's Future Safety Investments
Among the important wildfire safety investments in the December 20, 2019 settlement agreement are the following components of PG&E's Community Wildfire Safety Program:
Installing stronger and more resilient poles and covered power lines in the highest fire-threat areas.
Increasing ongoing work to keep power lines clear of branches from an estimated 120 million trees with the potential to grow or fall into overhead power lines, including annual vegetation inspection of approximately 81,000 miles of high-voltage electric distribution lines.
Implementing SmartMeter™ technology to identify and respond to fallen power lines more quickly.
Expanding the network of weather stations to enhance weather forecasting and modeling by adding 1,300 new weather stations in high fire-risk areas by 2022.
Installing nearly 600 new high-definition cameras in high fire-threat areas, increasing coverage across these areas to more than 90 percent.
The settlement agreement also calls for further investing in technologies and strategies that minimize the impacts of Public Safety Power Shutoffs, among other tools PG&E uses to reduce the risks of wildfire.