The Latest: PG&E says it followed law but will boost checks

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SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — The Latest on the investigation into deadly Northern California wildfires (all times local):

4:50 p.m.:

Pacific Gas & Electric Co. is responding to a report by California fire investigators that found the utility’s equipment was responsible for 12 wildfires last October, including two that killed a total of 15 people.

PG&E says in a statement Friday that its programs met California’s high standards, including rules for maintaining power poles, inspections and monitoring vegetation in areas where the company has power lines.

It says it prunes or removes 1.4 million trees a year.

But the company says years of drought and climate change in California are forcing it to take new steps. They include creating a wildfire operations center to monitor fire conditions, adding a weather station network and boosting vegetation management.

The company also agreed to pre-emptively cut off power in times of extreme fire danger.

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4 p.m.:

California’s Department of Forestry and Fire Protection says 12 Northern California wildfires last fall, including two that killed a total of 15 people, were caused by downed power lines.

The agency said in a report Friday that investigators determined the fires “were caused by electric power and distribution lines, conductors and the failure of power poles.”

All involved equipment owned by San Francisco-based Pacific Gas & Electric. A message left with PG&E was not immediately returned Friday afternoon.

It said the cluster of fires burned at least 245,000 acres in Northern California. About 11,000 firefighters from 17 states and Australia helped battle the blazes.

The deadly fires in Friday’s report burned in Mendocino and Napa counties.

CalFire investigators are still probing other fires in October and December.

 

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