(Reuters) – California utilities company PG&E (NYSE) said on Monday it is cooperating with the US Forest Service (USFS) after the federal agency launched a criminal investigation into the US state’s largest wildfire this year.
The Mosquito Fire has burned 76,781 acres (31,072 ha) as of September 25. At least 11,000 people were forced to evacuate from Foresthill, Vulcanoville, Georgetown and other communities between Sacramento and Lake Tahoe.
As part of the investigation, the USFS removed and seized one of PG&E’s transport columns and equipment on September 24, the tool said in a filing.
“While PG&E conducts our own investigation into the events leading up to the fire, we have no access to physical evidence collected as part of the USFS investigation over the weekend,” a PG&E spokesperson said in an emailed statement to Reuters. .
The spokesman stressed that the US forces had not taken a decision on the cause of the fire.
The power company’s equipment has been blamed for causing several wildfires, including some of the state’s deadliest and most devastating. Potential liabilities of tens of billions of dollars forced it to seek bankruptcy protection in 2017 and 2018.
The Mosquito Fire, which was 60% contained, destroyed 78 buildings and damaged 13 through September 25.
PG&E said the USFS has indicated to it that the fire started in an area of the company’s power line on National Forest System land.
Earlier this month, PG&E said there was electrical activity near a transmission shaft in the area around the OxBow Reservoir in the Sierra Nevada, where the fire started on September 6.