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PG&E equipment seized in California wildfire probe

The California utility company declared bankruptcy in 2019 after facing hefty claims related to wildfires in the state

California's Mosquito wildfire may be related to equipment controlled by state utility company PG&E, a filing shows. Photo via Cal Fire Twitter
California's Mosquito wildfire may be related to equipment controlled by state utility company PG&E, a filing shows. Photo via Cal Fire Twitter

Sept. 27 (UPI) -- Federal authorities said they've seized equipment belonging to California utility company PG&E and launched a subsequent criminal probe related to the so-called Mosquito Fire, which has already consumed more than 76,000 acres of land.

A filing posted Sunday with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission noted the U.S. Forest Service is examining whether Pacific Gas and Electric was somehow tied to the blaze that erupted Sept. 6 in Placer County, Calif.

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The filing indicates the USFS informed PG&E that the fire started near one of its power lines in a national forest and, as such, it was now conducting a criminal investigation.

"On Sept. 24, the USFS removed and took possession of one of the utility's transmission poles and attached equipment," the filing added.

RELATED Mosquito Fire now California's largest of the year at 64,159 acres

The filing noted that more than 76,000 acres have burned, some 78 structures were destroyed and 13 were damaged. There have been no major injuries reported and the blaze was 60% contained as of Sunday.

The utility in a statement offered to California's NBC affiliate KCRA said it was cooperating with federal authorities.

"While PG&E is conducting our own investigation into the events that led to the fire, we do not have access to the physical evidence that was collected as part of the USFS investigation over the weekend," the statement to KRCA read.

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No cause of the blaze has been determined, though PG&E in early September filed a report with the state's Public Utilities Commission detailing an electrical fault that occurred close to where the fire erupted.

California Gov. Gavin Newsom declared a state of emergency on Sept. 8 for Placer and neighboring El Dorado counties because of the Mosquito Fire, though evacuation orders have since been lifted.

PG&E filed for bankruptcy in 2019 after facing billions of dollars in claims for wildfires started by its equipment. The company is now facing a separate lawsuit filed in a state superior court that claims the Mosquito Fire was caused by poorly maintained infrastructure.

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