PG&E Emailed Customer About ‘Problems With Sparks’ Day Before California’s Camp Fire, Report Says

November 14, 2018, 12:14 AM UTC

The day before the deadly Camp Fire erupted in California, a power utility company emailed a property owner asking for permission to access the woman’s property to address sparking power lines, according to the Associated Press.

Betsy Ann Cowley, who lives in Pulga, Calif. near where the fire started, said that she got an email from Pacific Gas & Electric while on vacation Wednesday in which the power company told her “they were having problems with sparks,” she told the AP.

Cowley said the power company visited her property but she said she wasn’t there and was not aware of their findings, the AP reported.

PG&E is already potentially liable for earlier California fires, The San Francisco Chronicle reports, and canceled plans to shut off power as a precaution on the same day that the blaze started.

The Camp Fire, burning in Butte County near Chico, started on Thursday and has grown to 125,000 acres, killing 42 and destroying more than 6,000 structures. Already the deadliest fire in the state’s history, the death toll is expected to rise, as more than 200 people remain missing.

While the cause of the fire remains under investigation, fire investigators declared a portion of Cowley’s property a crime scene, the news source reported.

PG&E’s stock fell 16% on Friday and another 17% on Monday, the worst decline the company has seen in 16 years.

The Camp Fire is one of three fires incinerating California. The other two, the Woolsey Fire and the Hill Fire, are burning in the southern part of the state.

In addition to claiming the most lives, the fires also may be the costliest, with an expected price tag of $19 billion. The incidents also add to ongoing fire insurance woes. Insurers lost $16 billion in 2017, a fourfold increase from 2016, and are refusing to renew policies for people in danger areas, Scientific American reports.