California Wildfire Grows to More than 20K Acres, More Blazes Erupt

By David R. Baker and | November 9, 2018

A wildfire raging in Northern California’s Sierra Nevada foothills quadrupled in size late Thursday and another day of dry winds threatens to make it spread even farther, faster.

The blaze near the community of Chico has left more than 23,000 homes and businesses without power, according to PG&E Corp.’s website. Residents in several towns were evacuated. The National Weather Service warns flames will spread rapidly as high pressure across the region has parched the air and fueled gusts of up to 65 miles per hour.

As of 8 p.m. Thursday, the foothills fire had grown to 20,000 acres up from 5,000 earlier in the day. Two fires have broken out in Ventura County, just north of Los Angeles, consuming about 12,000 acres, and causing residents there to flee the flames.

PG&E shares fell 2.1 percent after media outlets reported the blaze was spreading. The utility owner faces up to $17 billion in liabilities from last year’s fires, several of which were linked to its power lines.The company has said it may cut electricity to as many as 63,000 customers in Northern California to minimize the threat of fire in the region.

PG&E is struggling to cope with losses from deadly fires last year that could cost the utility as much as $17.32 billion in liabilities, according to a JPMorgan Chase & Co. estimate. Investors are still waiting on the state’s investigation into the Tubbs fire, the deadliest of last year’s wine country fires.

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