An American flag hangs in front of a home that was destroyed by wildfires in California. Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

A dozen wildfires in Northern California last October were started by "electric power and distribution lines, and the failure of power poles" from Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E), according to a release from the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.

The big picture, per Axios' Andrew Freedman: Contributing factors were tinder dry conditions, powerful winds, and long-term drought in the state that had left lands ready to burn. Also, land development practices likely exacerbated the situation too. Winds during these events exceeded hurricane force (75 mph), but the power line finding likely clears the way for lawsuits against PG&E.

Why it matters: This was the deadliest series of fires in the state's history, the Associated Press explains, and two of the fires resulted in the deaths of 15 people. These 12 fires were part of a greater scale of wildfires that ravaged California, killing more than 40 people and forcing thousands to evacuate.

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Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 7 p.m. ET: 12,859,834 — Total deaths: 567,123 — Total recoveries — 7,062,085Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 7 p.m. ET: 3,297,501— Total deaths: 135,155 — Total recoveries: 1,006,326 — Total tested: 40,282,176Map.
  3. States: Florida smashes single-day record for new coronavirus cases with over 15,000 — NYC reports zero coronavirus deaths for first time since pandemic hit.
  4. Public health: Ex-FDA chief projects "apex" of South's coronavirus curve in 2-3 weeks — Coronavirus testing czar: Lockdowns in hotspots "should be on the table"
  5. Education: Betsy DeVos says schools that don't reopen shouldn't get federal funds — Pelosi accuses Trump of "messing with the health of our children."

Scoop: How the White House is trying to trap leakers

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

President Trump's chief of staff, Mark Meadows, has told several White House staffers he's fed specific nuggets of information to suspected leakers to see if they pass them on to reporters — a trap that would confirm his suspicions. "Meadows told me he was doing that," said one former White House official. "I don't know if it ever worked."

Why it matters: This hunt for leakers has put some White House staffers on edge, with multiple officials telling Axios that Meadows has been unusually vocal about his tactics. So far, he's caught only one person, for a minor leak.

11 GOP congressional nominees support QAnon conspiracy

Lauren Boebert posing in her restaurant in Rifle, Colorado, on April 24. Photo: Emily Kask/AFP

At least 11 Republican congressional nominees have publicly supported or defended the QAnon conspiracy theory movement or some of its tenets — and more aligned with the movement may still find a way onto ballots this year.

Why it matters: Their progress shows how a fringe online forum built on unsubstantiated claims and flagged as a threat by the FBI is seeking a foothold in the U.S. political mainstream.