s
s
Sections
We don't just cover the North Bay. We live here.
Did You Know? In the first 10 days of the North Bay fire, nearly 1.5 million people used their mobile devices to visit our sites.
Already a subscriber?
iPhone
Wow! You read a lot!
Reading enhances confidence, empathy, decision-making, and overall life satisfaction. Keep it up! Subscribe.
Already a subscriber?
iPhone
Oops, you're out of free articles.
Until next month, you can always look over someone's shoulder at the coffee shop.
Already a subscriber?
iPhone
We don't just cover the North Bay. We live here.
Did You Know? In the first 10 days of the North Bay fire, we posted 390 stories about the fire. And they were shared nearly 137,000 times.
Already a subscriber?
iPhone
Supporting the community that supports us.
Obviously you value quality local journalism. Thank you.
Already a subscriber?
iPhone
Oops, you're out of free articles.
We miss you already! (Subscriptions start at just 99 cents.)
Already a subscriber?
iPhone

Read all of the PD's fire coverage here

State regulators have released previously withheld details in reports filed by Pacific Gas & Electric Co. revealing the exact location of damaged transmission equipment found near the ignition points of the wildfires that ravaged Sonoma and Napa counties in October.

The documents — including the precise address and specific types of damaged equipment — provide new information about the proximity of PG&E equipment to the origins of the deadly Oct. 8 fires.

Cal Fire officials say their investigation is not complete, and PG&E officials stressed no causes of the fires have been identified. Nevertheless, dozens of lawsuits have been filed against PG&E alleging the fires were sparked when gale force winds sent overgrown tree limbs crashing into powerlines.

Redacted versions of the reports were released by the state Public Utilities Commission late last year, with specific address and equipment details withheld to preserve the integrity of the Cal Fire investigation. The PUC has now posted unredacted versions of the reports online.

The news Wednesday that his address on Nuns Canyon Road in Glen Ellen was listed as the location of a PG&E equipment failure didn’t surprise Tim Korn one bit.

The former owner of Relais du Soleil guest ranch, most of which burned to the ground, said the events of that night left little question in his mind about what sparked the blaze, which would eventually grow to become the largest of the North Coast fires, burning 54,300 acres, destroying 1,355 homes and killing three people.

“The fire did start at Nuns Canyon when a tree fell on a power pole and a transformer exploded,” Korn said. “I know because it woke me up.”

Korn, 75, ran the guest ranch for 22 years on the property at 1210 Nuns Canyon Road. The ranch had a separate PG&E metered line running to the well pump, he said, and there was a large tree with limbs overhanging the wire, he said. He said he believed the limbs of that tree caused the transformer explosion and the resulting power outage.

Recovering at the time from heart surgery, Korn initially decided to go back to sleep, he said. But his family members, including grandchildren, were sleeping in one of the cottages on the property, spotted the fire and tried to evacuate, he said.

“I was the first one to report the fire,” Korn said. “We saw exactly where it came from.”

But the fire grew quickly and blocked their retreat toward Highway 12, forcing them to flee farther up the narrow rural road where he and his family spent seven hours in a meadow surrounding by an inferno before they were able to escape, he said.

Korn, who lost most of his possessions in the fire but isn’t expecting a big insurance payout because he leased the property, said “PG&E has been out a bazillion times” to the property, and a guard was posted at Nuns Canyon Road for weeks after the fire.

PG&E spokeswoman Deanna Contreras said the utility is fully cooperating with the investigation and is focused on helping its customers rebuild.

“We’ll let Cal Fire and CPUC investigators do their work, and we’re not going to speculate on the causes of the fires while the investigation is ongoing,” Contreras said

List of California lawmakers' per diem collected when absent

(local representatives in bold)

Here is a list of current members of the state Legislature, the total number of days they were absent, and how much per diem each lawmaker collected on days they were absent during the most recent legislative session, from Dec. 1, 2014 to Aug. 8, 2016.

Senate:

Benjamin Allen, D-Santa Monica, two absences, $176

Joel Anderson, R-Alpine, 19 absences, $1,888

Patricia Bates, R-Laguna Niguel, 11 absences, $1,048

Jim Beall, D-San Jose, one absence, $0

Tom Berryhill, R-Twain Harte, 31 absences, $2,432

Marty Block, D-La Jolla, two absences, $168

Anthony Canella, R-Ceres, 16 absences, $1,864

President Pro Tem Kevin de Leon, D-Los Angeles, seven absences, $176

Jean Fuller, R-Bakersfield, 12 absences, $840

Ted Gaines, R-El Dorado Hills, 24 absences, $0

Cathleen Galgiani, D-Stockton, five absences, $688

Steven Glazer, D-Orinda, eight absences, $0

Isadore Hall, D-Compton, 21 absences, $0

Loni Hancock, D-Oakland, seven absences, $864

Ed Hernandez, D-Azusa, six absences, $344

Robert Hertzberg, D-Van Nuys, 13 absences, $352

Jerry Hill, D-San Mateo, three absences, $512

Ben Hueso, D-San Diego, one absence, $0

Bob Huff, R-San Dimas, 12 absences, $1,216

Hannah-Beth Jackson, D-Santa Barbara, seven absences, $872

Ricardo Lara, D-Bell Gardens, eight absences, $520

Mark Leno, D-San Francisco, one absence, $176

Connie Leyva, D-Chino, five absences, $0

Carol Liu, D-La Canada Flintridge, 20 absences, $1,024

Mike McGuire, D-Healdsburg, four absences, $688

Tony Mendoza, D-Artesia, five absences, $504

Holly Mitchell, D-Los Angeles, seven absences, $504

Bill Monning, D-Carmel, one absence, $0

John Moorlach, R-Costa Mesa, four absences, $0

Mike Morrell, R-Rancho Cucamonga, six absences, $344

Janet Nguyen, R-Fountain Valley, 12 absences, $1,704

Jim Nielsen, R-Gerber, three absences, $512

Richard Pan, D-Sacramento, nine absences, $0

Fran Pavley, D-Agoura Hills, 20 absences, $3,232

Richard Roth, D-Riverside, one absence, $141.86

Sharon Runner, R-Lancaster, 86 absences, $12,976

Jeff Stone, R-Temecula, six absences, $168

Andy Vidak, R-Hanford, 15 absences, $520

Bob Wieckowski, D-Fremont, two absences, $176

Lois Wolk, D-Davis, 18 absences, $176

Assembly:

Katcho Achadjian, R-San Luis Obispo, four absences, $168

Luis A. Alejo, D-Salinas, 13 absences, $520

Travis Allen, R-Huntington Beach, 36 absences, $2,351

Joaquin Arambula, D-Kingsburg, one absence, $0

Toni Atkins, D-San Diego, 11 absences, $1,024

Catharine Baker, R-Dublin, five absences, $0

Frank Bigelow, R-O'Neals, 10 absences, $1,706

Richard Bloom, D-Santa Monica, six absences, $528

Susan A. Bonilla, D-Concord, 17 absences, $1,167

Rob Bonta, D-Alameda, three absences, $176

William Brough, R-Dana Point, 13 absences, $1,896

Cheryl Brown, D-San Bernardino, five absences, $344

Autumn R. Burke, D-Los Angeles, three absences, $336

Ian Calderon, D-Whittier, six absences, $1,032

Nora Campos, D-San Jose, 20 absences, $2,376

Ling Ling Chang, R-Diamond Bar, nine absences, $696

Ed Chau, D-Arcadia, four absences, $520

Rocky Chavez, R-Oceanside, nine absences, $856

David Chiu, D-San Francisco, 14 absences, $2,272

Kansen Chu, D-San Jose, six absences, $1,016

Ken Cooley, D-Rancho Cordova, four absences, $0

Jim Cooper, D-Elk Grove, three absences, $0

Matthew Dababneh, D-Encino, 17 absences, $2,784

Brian Dahle, R-Bieber, five absences, $512

Tom Daly, D-Anaheim, nine absences, $1,360

Bill Dodd, D-Napa, four absences, $504

Susan Talamantes Eggman, D-Stockton, eight absences, $0

Jim Frazier, D-Oakley, four absences, $696

Beth Gaines, R-Rocklin, 31 absences, $0

James Gallagher, R-Plumas Lake, four absences, $704

Cristina Garcia, D-Bell Gardens, six absences, $688

Eduardo Garcia, D-Coachella, eight absences, $1,216

Mike Gatto, D-Glendale, four absences, $696

Mike A. Gipson, D-Carson, one absence, $0

Jimmy Gomez, D-Los Angeles, five absences, $520

Lorena S. Gonzalez, D-San Diego, five absences, $520

Richard S. Gordon, D-Menlo Park, one absence, $0

Adam C. Gray, D-Merced, 10 absences, $1,736

Shannon Grove, R-Bakersfield, 15 absences, $1,936

David Hadley, R-Torrance, six absences, $0

Matthew Harper, R-Huntington Beach, three absences, $344

Roger Hernandez, D-West Covina, 27 absences, $4,680

Chris Holden, D-Pasadena, four absences, $176

Jacqui Irwin, D-Thousand Oaks, four absences, $504

Brian Jones, R-Santee, five absences, $840

Reggie Jones-Sawyer, D-Los Angeles, seven absences, $352

Young Kim, R-Fullerton, 11 absences, $512

Tom Lackey, R-Palmdale, no absences

Marc Levine, D-San Rafael, four absences, $696

Eric Linder, R-Corona, five absences, $706

Patty Lopez, D-San Fernando, five absences, $856

Evan Low, D-Campbell, four absences, $344

Brian Maienschein, R-San Diego, no absences

Devon Mathis, R-Visalia, 11 absences, $1,040

Chad Mayes, R-Yucca Valley, one absence, $176

Kevin McCarty, D-Sacramento, eight absences, $528

Jose Medina, D-Riverside, seven absences, $688

Melissa Melendez, R-Lake Elsinore, 36 absences, $1,200

Kevin Mullin, D-South San Francisco, 11 absences, $1,896

Adrin Nazarian, D-Los Angeles, nine absences, $1,016

Jay Obernolte, R-Hesperia, three absences, $512

Patrick O'Donnell, D-Long Beach, 14 absences, $1,208

Kristin Olsen, R-Riverbank, 11 absences, $1,024

Jim Patterson, R-Fresno, two absences, $344

Henry Perea, D-Fresno, 11 absences, $1,680 (asterisk) Perea resigned on Dec. 31, 2015

Bill Quirk, D-Hayward, two absences, $336

Anthony Rendon, D-Paramount, seven absences, $344

Sebastian Ridley-Thomas, D-Los Angeles, 16 absences, $2,385

Freddie Rodriguez, D-Pomona, two absences, $352

Rudy Salas, D-Bakersfield, five absences, $680

Miguel Santiago, D-Los Angeles, six absences, $1,048

Marc Steinorth, R-Rancho Cucamonga, seven absences, $1,048

Mark Stone, D-Scotts Valley, one absence, $176

Tony Thurmond, D-Richmond, four absences, $352

Philip Ting, D-San Francisco, seven absences, $864

Donald Wagner, R-Irvine, three absences, $512

Marie Waldron, R-Escondido, 16 absences, $2,487

Shirley N. Weber, D-San Diego, five absences, $520

Scott Wilk, R-Santa Clarita, seven absences, $1,208

Das Williams, D-Carpinteria, 12 absences, $1,216

Jim Wood, D-Healdsburg, four absences, $688

</

In its report, PG&E notes that during winds up to 58 mph, the top of an alder tree “broke and fell on an open wire secondary service” at Korn’s address. The report notes that Cal Fire had taken possession of the “overhead secondary distribution conductors” in question.

In addition to the Nuns fire, three other fires appear to have started in locations at or near the addresses where damaged PG&E equipment was discovered. These include:

— 4011 Atlas Peak Road, north of Napa, near the suspected start of the 51,642-acre Atlas fire;

— 1721 Partrick Road, west of Napa, near where the Partrick fire, which merged with the Nuns fire, is believed to have started; and

— 1128 Bennett Lane, Calistoga, near where the 36,807-acre Tubbs fire, the most destructive in state history, is believed to have begun.

Jim Frantz, principal of Frantz Law Group, said the new details support his suspicion the fires were caused by the utility’s failure to maintain trees and brush around its equipment. Frantz said he is representing hundreds of clients pursuing litigation against PG&E, including five wrongful death cases.

“We think their wires came down onto the ground and started the fires,” he said.

PG&E has raised the possibility that power equipment “owned, installed and maintained by a third party” in Calistoga might be responsible for the Tubbs fire. An Oct. 26 report lists the 1128 Bennett Lane property as the location where Cal Fire investigators took possession of “fused cutouts” and a “secondary service line” that “served multiple pieces of customer-owned equipment on the property.”

“No damage to PG&E equipment was readily apparent,” the report notes.

Frantz said the utility’s “private wire theory,” was “bogus.”

Cal Fire spokesman Scott McLean said he didn’t know what led the California Public Utilities Commission to remove redactions in the reports.

The evidence-gathering phase of Cal Fire’s investigations into the cause of the October fires is done, but that doesn’t mean investigators won’t return to fire origin sites for follow-up, McLean said.

Cal Fire has not publicized a cause for any of the fires, and will do so on a rolling basis as each investigation is finalized. McLean said there’s no standard time frame for how long fire investigations take. He noted the cause of the 2015 Valley fire — electrical wiring of a hot tub — was made public “one day less than a year” after the fire started.

“Each fire is different,” McLean said.

Separate teams of Cal Fire investigators have been assigned to each fire. The teams start large and grow smaller as aspects of the investigation are completed.

Some of the locations where damaged equipment was discovered, such as Chateau St. Jean Winery in Kenwood, were enveloped by larger fires.

Another, on Sullivan Way in Santa Rosa, is near the spot of a small fire that destroyed a few homes and burned into the northern edge of Howarth Park before being extinguished. That fire, however, is not considered part of the larger wildfires.

Staff Writers Julie Johnson and Paul Payne contributed to this report. You can reach Staff Writer Kevin McCallum at 707-521-5207 or kevin.mccallum@pressdemocrat.com. On Twitter @srcitybeat.

Show Comment