PG&E’s stock saw its worst decline in 16 years with the stock falling 17% Monday, as a fire in Northern California’s Sierra Nevada foothills continued to rage. The fires are not only damaging the utility’s infrastructure in the area, but some reports indicate the fire started following a malfunction in its transmission lines.
PGE’s declines Monday add to a 16% drop in PG&E’s stock Friday as the Camp Fire began to spread at an alarming pace.
Edison International, another utility serving communities affected by other wildfires in Southern California, fell 12%. Analysts estimate that the declines in both stocks anticipate as much as $20 billion in damages for PG&E and $5 billion for Edison.
Northern California’s Camp Fire has forced more than 52,000 Californians to evacuate, and injured at least three firefighters since it began on Thursday. At least 29 deaths have also been reported and nearly 230 people are still unaccounted for. In Southern California, the Woolsey Fire has destroyed parts of the city of Malibu, as well as inland communities from Oak Park to Calabasas, and forced the evacuation of a quarter million residents.
According to the San Francisco Chronicle, PG&E reported a transmission line outage about 20 minutes before the Camp Fire was reported. The San Jose Mercury News, meanwhile, pointed to radio transmissions from firefighters that indicated the utility’s downed power lines may have sparked the fire. PG&E and fire officials have said the cause of the fire is still being investigated.