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Officials: PG&E power lines caused California wildfire that killed 85

An aerial view of a neighborhood destroyed by the Camp Fire on November 15, 2018 in Paradise, California. Fueled by high winds and low humidity the Camp Fire ripped through the town of Paradise charring over 140,000 acres, killing at least 56 people and destroying over 8,500 homes and businesses. The fire is currently at 40 percent containment. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

SAN FRANCISCO — Pacific Gas & Electric Corp. power lines caused a fire that killed 85 people — the deadliest and most destructive wildfire in state history, California fire officials said Wednesday.

Cal Fire said the transmission lines owned and operated by the San Francisco-based utility sparked the Nov. 8 fire in the Pulga area that nearly destroyed Paradise.

The investigation also identified a second nearby ignition site involving vegetation and electrical distribution lines, also owned and operated by the San Francisco-based utility.

The second fire was quickly consumed by the initial fire.

Lynsey Paulo, a spokeswoman for PG&E, did not immediately comment.

The fire in Butte County destroyed nearly 15,000 homes.

The nation’s largest utility filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in January as it faced tens of billions of dollars in potential liability costs related to wildfires in 2017 and 2018.

Lynsey Paulo, a spokeswoman for PG&E, did not immediately comment.

The fire in Butte County destroyed nearly 15,000 homes and nearly wiped out the town of Paradise, population 27,000, in the Sierra Nevada footballs.

The utility, which filed for bankruptcy protection in January, had said in February it was “probable” that one of its transmission lines sparked the blaze. PG&E has estimated its total liability from the Paradise fire and 2017 wildfires could top $30 billion.

The utility has previously acknowledged that the Caribou-Palermo transmission line lost power right before the fire and was later found to be damaged.

The Camp Fire spread rapidly, burning into the communities of Concow and Magalia and the outskirts of east Chico.

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