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See the broken hook PG&E says caused the deadly Camp Fire in Paradise, California

Sacramento Bee

Dec. 6--The busted hook that caused the Camp Fire fits in the palm of one's hand.

PG&E Corp. this week released a photo of the broken "C-hook" that is believed to have caused the November 2018 wildfire, the deadliest in California history. The Camp Fire killed 85 people and destroyed most of the town of Paradise.

PG&E filed a picture of the hook in U.S. District Court in San Francisco, where a federal judge is pressing the troubled utility for more information about its safety record and other issues. The judge, William Alsup, is overseeing PG&E's criminal probation following its conviction following the 2010 deadly San Bruno natural gas pipeline explosion.

Alsup requested a photo of the C-hook after reviewing a blistering investigative report by the California Public Utilities Commission, which said PG&E inspectors should have inspected the C-hook more vigorously before the fire.

The transmission tower northeast of Paradise hadn't been subjected to a "climbing inspection" since 2001, in violation of PG&E's own safety policies, the PUC report said. "A climbing inspection of the Incident Tower during that time could have identified the worn C-hook before it failed, and ... its timely replacement could have prevented ignition of the Camp Fire."

The PUC report included a redacted photo of the C-hook. PG&E told Alsup it had no objection to releasing the picture.

The hook was supposed to keep high-voltage transmission wires separate from the tower. When it broke, it likely allowed a jumper cable to brush against the tower, showering sparks on the dry vegetation below, igniting the fire.

The picture shows the rust-colored hook in the grip of a white utility gloved hand.

PG&E, responding to the commission's report, said this week that it has dramatically increased its equipment inspection program this year and has fixed or replaced hundreds of pieces of faulty equipment.

Billions of dollars in damages from the Camp Fire, plus the 2017 wine country fires, drove PG&E into bankruptcy in January.


(c)2019 The Sacramento Bee (Sacramento, Calif.)

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Tim Hunt's picture
Tim Hunt on Dec 10, 2019 1:29 pm GMT

No photo of the C-Hook that broke here so why name the article the way you did.... article poorly written.

Matt Chester's picture
Matt Chester on Dec 10, 2019 2:31 pm GMT

Here's the picture from the source article, Tim: 

Kate Cummings's picture
Kate Cummings on Dec 13, 2019 3:01 pm GMT

Wow - no climbing inspections of the transmission tower in almost 17 years?! If they are that "behind" on those inspections, what other safety requirements and equipment monitoring/inspections have they neglected?

Tim Hunt's picture
Tim Hunt on Dec 13, 2019 8:50 pm GMT

Your right..... Most the time in the 40 years doing utility work we fly these lines once a year with Helicopters doing visual inspections for broken arms or other maintenance issues or for vegitation managment concerns. Never doing a climbing inspection for most utilities probably is not a big deal for most utilities but for a California utility that is subject to the droughts and 80 MPH winds they get every year. That is pushing the envelope. Also NESC codes require some climbing work every year.

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