Below is an excerpt from an article in the Lowell [Massachusetts] Sun:
“A Chelmsford man accused of planting explosive devices on National Grid power lines in Tyngsboro [Mass.] in March was indicted by a federal grand jury on Tuesday.
Danny Kelly, 61, of Chelmsford, was indicted on a charge of malicious destruction of property by fire. He has been held without bail since his arrest after Tyngsboro firefighters on March 30 responded to Locust Avenue near National Grid power lines for a brush fire that officials suspect was caused by one of five incendiary devices found at the scene.
A note found at the scene explained that the devices were designed to cause disruption to power from Canada to the United States.
Investigators focused on Kelly because in a 2004 case he was convicted of cutting 18 phone and cable lines in an extortion attempt against Nortel Networks, his former employer.
Kelly pleaded guilty to extortion and in 2006, a federal judge sentenced him to five years probation, ordered him to undergo mental-health treatment, possess no destructive devices and pay $378,041 in restitution.
As part of his 2004 case, Kelly was evaluated by Dr. Roger H. Gray, who performed a forensic psychological evaluation. Gray diagnosed Kelly as having symptoms of bipolar and paranoid-personality disorders.
After the incendiary devices were discovered on the National Grid power lines, a raid of Kelly ‘s 26 School St. home by the FBI and other officials yielded chemicals that could be used to make the pipe-bomb-type devices…”
An investigator’s report on the cause of the fatal Twisp River Fire revealed that a tree branch contacting a power line ignited, dropped to the ground, and started the fire west of Twisp, Washington.
Three firefighters for the U.S. Forest Service were killed inside their vehicle August 19, 2015 when they were attempting to escape from the rapidly spreading fire. A fourth firefighter exited the vehicle and ran to safety. He was severely burned, but survived, hospitalized for three months. The deceased were Tom Zbyszewki, 20, Andrew Zajac, 26, and Richard Wheeler, 31. The injured firefighter was Daniel Lyon, 25, of Puyallup, Washington.
The Seattle Times obtained a copy of the investigation report through a public records request. The entire 38-page document can be seen here.
CAL FIRE is seeking $90 million in restitution from Pacific Gas and Electric Company.
An investigation of last September’s 70,868-acre Butte Fire by the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection determined that poor maintenance of a power line led to a tree contacting the line, causing the blaze. The fire destroyed a total of 921 structures, including; 549 homes, 368 outbuildings, and 4 commercial properties. Only five other fires in California have destroyed more structures.
In addition to the $90 million that CAL FIRE is seeking from PG&E, 17 law firms are representing 1,800 people who expect to be reimbursed for damages.
And that is not all of the lawsuits. Below is an excerpt from an article in the Sacramento Bee:
…Calaveras County supervisors say they will seek “hundreds of millions in compensation” from PG&E for the fire, estimated to have caused more than $1 billion in damage in that county.
The county expects to file a civil lawsuit in Superior Court, seeking to recover the county’s costs of responding to the fire, cleanup efforts, and losses of public property, county officials said.
“We are shocked and dismayed by the extent of PG&E’s negligence and will actively seek justice for Calaveras County and its citizens,” said Cliff Edson, chair of the Calaveras County Board of Supervisors.
The county will also ask the California Public Utilities Commission to investigate PG&E’s role in the fire, much like the agency did following the fatal 2010 pipeline explosion in San Bruno, said county counsel Megan Stedtfeld. The San Bruno blast killed eight people and destroyed a neighborhood, leading the commission to order the utility to make $1.5 billion in payments to the state and customers and for safety improvements…
…Police said they found cylindrical metal objects on high power lines — that someone deliberately placed there.
“It would take a considerable effort to get up as high as they did in this instance,” said Howe.
Investigators said the devices looked like pipe bombs but were not explosive. They said it appears they were designed to start a fire and had to be manually activated.
“These devices were homemade,” FBI special agent Peter Kowenhoven said. “Those devices are going to now be moved to the FBI lab for analysis to identify the precursor chemicals, as well as the other parts of the device.”
Authorities haven’t said how many devices were found or how they were placed on the power lines.
“I can’t think of any other reason why somebody would want to do that, other than a sinister reason,” said Kowenhoven.
Agents said the fact that the objects were designed to catch fire — not explode — could help them pin down those responsible…
San Diego Gas and Electric wants to raise the rates their customers pay in order to cover the costs the utility incurred after the failure of their power lines caused the Witch Creek, Guejito, and Rice Canyon fires in 2007. The fires destroyed more than 1,300 homes in southern California, killed two people, and caused massive evacuations. The Witch Creek Fire which started near Santa Ysabel burned 197,990 acres.
SDG&E still owes $421 million resulting from legal settlements that were not covered by their insurance. The San Diego Union-Tribune reported that on Friday the company asked for permission to have their customers pay 90 percent, or $379 million, of the remaining costs from the fires. The stockholders would pay $42 million.
San Diego County Supervisor Dianne Jacob, a fierce critic of SDG&E who represents East County communities, asked the utility to shut off electricity only as a last resort.
“I’m deeply concerned about any shutoffs because they pose risks to property and life in an emergency, especially in areas where firefighters need access to well water,” Jacob said. “I urge the utility to cut power only as a last resort and only if there’s an actual system failure that could ignite a wildfire.”