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City fire investigators link wildfires to power lines

Readers of this blog and residents all across California are likely keeping an eye on developments regarding the North Bay wildfires that devastated lives and homes in the area last year. While there has yet to be a firm determination on the cause of these fires, ongoing investigations continue to reveal updated information.

Most recently, media reports and public record indicate that city fire investigators from Santa Rosa have determined that PG&E power lines may have caused at least two smaller fires in the area. 

What is arcing?

According to this article from ArcAD, which is a software company focused on providing solutions for electrical systems workers, arcing power lines are caused by a gap between conductors of an electric current. These gaps produce an arc, which consists of intense light and heat energy. 

Arcs can cause catastrophic damage to people and property because of their high temperatures and release of energy.

What does this mean for homeowners affected by the fires?

In the context of the North Bay wildfires, investigators found that the high winds in the area were the cause of the arcing power lines, which then caused fires in the surrounding dry vegetation.

The report may be reassuring because it ties the PG&E-owned power lines to the damage, which is what more than 100 plaintiffs are claiming in lawsuits filed against the utility. 

However, the situation is not yet resolved. The findings from city fire investigators are the result of just one investigation into the wildfires. State utility regulators and Cal Fire are also conducting investigations, which are expected to be more influential with regard to determining liability.

That being said, this report can serve as a reminder that inverse condemnation investigations are often highly complex and technical. It can take more time and resources to identify causes than people expect, but it is crucial not to lose hope or give up. There can be legal remedies available in these situations, and an attorney experienced in these cases can help you build a claim and fight for the compensation you may deserve.

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