Utility says power lines may have started 2 California fires

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The Tiburon Peninsula remains dark from a power blackout Monday, Oct. 28, 2019, in this view from Sausalito, Calif. Millions of people in Northern California are on track to have lights come back on, but some may not be restored before another round of strong winds threaten to damage power lines and spark fires. Electricity is expected to begin being restored by Monday, though Pacific Gas & Electric Co. warned it might cut power again as soon as Tuesday with a forecast of strong winds expected to last until Wednesday. (AP Photo/Eric Risberg)

SAN FRANCISCO, CA – Pacific Gas & Electric Co. said Monday its power lines may have started two wildfires over the weekend in the San Francisco Bay Area.

The fires described in PG&E reports to state regulators match blazes that destroyed a tennis club and forced urgent evacuations in the town of Lafayette, about 22 miles east of San Francisco.

PG&E told the California Public Utilities Commission that a worker responded to the first fire around 4:45 p.m. Sunday and was told firefighters believe contact between a power line and a communication line may have caused it.

A worker went to another fire about an hour later and saw a fallen pole and transformer.

Contra Costa fire Department personnel on site told the worker they were looking at the transformer as a potential ignition source, a company official wrote.

Powerful winds are driving multiple fires across Northern California and forcing power shut-offs intended to prevent downed power lines that can spark blazes. The company says the Lafayette blazes did not begin in areas designated as high risk for wildfire.

PG&E is under severe financial pressure after its equipment has been blamed for a series of destructive wildfires in Northern California over the past three years.