California wildfires

Cal Fire determines PG&E equipment caused California's deadliest fire

The town of Paradise following California's deadliest fire
Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Pacific Gas & Electrical's equipment was responsible for causing California's deadliest and most destructive wildfire that killed 85 people and burned 150,000 acres in 2018, investigators said on Wednesday.

The big picture: PG&E — California's biggest utility company — filed for bankruptcy earlier this year in anticipation of facing hefty fines following its equipment being blamed for sparking the Camp Fire. California politicians and utility companies are battling to figure out whether utilities should be allowed to pass along liabilities from fire-related damage claims to taxpayers as wildfires become more frequent and deadly in California. State fire officials have sent the investigation to the Butte County district attorney who will have the authority to pursue a criminal case, per the Modesto Bee.

Go deeper: California utility stock collapses amid wildfire liability concerns

Predicting the next power disaster

Photo of a transmission tower with a wildfire nearby
California's deadly Camp Fire. Photo: Karl Mondon/Digital First Media/Mercury News/Getty

After decades of neglect, U.S. infrastructure is cracking, sagging and exploding — and pressure on old systems is growing as cities swell and the climate changes.

What's happening: Utility companies, fearful of setting off more disasters like California's deadly wildfires, are hungrily buying up AI systems that can tell them which equipment is the next to rupture or go up in flames.