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Equipment Owned by California’s 3 Largest Utilities Sparked More Than 2,000 Fires in 3 1/2 Years

The investigation continues into the origin of the Camp fire, which some believe was started with a faulty wire in Pulga, Calif., shown here in an undated photo.(Credit: Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times)

The investigation continues into the origin of the Camp fire, which some believe was started with a faulty wire in Pulga, Calif., shown here in an undated photo.(Credit: Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times)

Equipment owned by California’s three largest utilities ignited more than 2,000 fires in three and a half years — a timespan in which state regulators cited and fined the companies nine times for electrical safety violations.

How the state regulates utilities is under growing scrutiny following unprecedented wildfires suspected to have been caused by power line issues, blazes that have destroyed thousands of homes and killed dozens of people.

Lacking the manpower and sophisticated technology necessary to monitor more than 250,000 miles of power lines across the state, regulators rely on something of an honor system, with utilities responsible for ensuring all trees and vegetation are cut back far enough from electrical equipment before the onset of dry, high-fire danger conditions.

Destructive wildfires in Paradise, wine country, Ventura County and other areas have prompted California lawmakers to consider new ways to improve regulatory oversight and hold utilities more accountable for prevention.

Read the full story on LATimes.com

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