MADERA COUNTY, California. (KSEE) – A fire that burned 50 acres in Madera County on Sunday and prompted an evacuation warning is now 50% contained.
CAL Fire crews say it was caused by a dry tree that fell into PG&E power lines.
This comes as California power regulators recently hit the company with a $106 million bill for its mishandling of power outages in 2019.
The company also reached $43 million in settlements with three different counties for wildfires that were ignited by its equipment.
“We certainly have a responsibility to our customers to continually improve the safety of our system,” said Jeff Smith, a spokesperson for PG&E.
Smith said the company is currently exceeding state vegetation and safety standards and is working on installing fire-resistant equipment and hardening power lines. He said 1/3 of PG&E’s electric lines are now in high-fire-threat districts.
“We’re working on installing new equipment that is even more fire-resistant. That involves testing new tools and technologies,” Smith said.
Fresno County Supervisor Nathan Magsig said many of the electricity transmission systems in the county are more than 80-years-old.
“We need to take a two-pronged approach: not only do we need to be spending money to improve that infrastructure – those transmission lines – but really, if we have a healthy forest in place, we remove the fuels that catch fire and cause these fires to move rapidly,” he said.
Magsig said removing dead trees and thinning forests is really the key to preventing fires and it is a problem that’s been plaguing Fresno County and surrounding areas for decades.
Every month, the county restates a local state of emergency for forest health.