Richter does not blame insulated conductors for lethal fires in California

A federal judge in California says uninsulated power lines owned by a local utility company have been the cause of several forest fires that have been fought by state authorities throughout California since 2017.

Judge of the US District Court William Alsup found that equipment from the power company Pacific Gas and Electric was the cause of some forest fires, as branches and other debris collided with uninsulated power conductors, NBC News reports.

"The Court notes for the time being that the main cause of the large wildfires in 2017 and 2018 due to PG & E's equipment was the susceptibility of PG & E's distribution lines to trees or limbs during high wind events they fall on NBC.

"The conductors are almost always not isolated, and when the conductors are pushed together by falling trees or limbs, electrical sparks fall into the underlying vegetation, and if the vegetation is dry, there is a danger of igniting a wildfire with these electrical sparks," he said added.

Forest fires have damaged thousands of homes and killed dozens of people in the state in recent years, including the massive campfire taken by officials late last year after 14,000 homes were destroyed and 86 people killed.

Pacific Gas and Electric said in a statement to NBC that it was reviewing the judge's decision and committed to "following all the rules and regulations that apply to our work."

"The primary responsibility of PG & E is the safety of our customers and the communities we operate in. We know of Judge Alsup's recent assignment and are currently considering it," said PG & E, according to NBC.

"We commit to comply with all rules and regulations that apply to our work, and work with our state and local partners and across all sectors and disciplines to develop comprehensive and long-term security solutions for the future."