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The Latest: Utility sued over fire sees huge stock drop

November 14, 2018

CHICO, Calif. (AP) — The Latest on the wildfires in California (all times local):

10:30 a.m.

Pacific Gas & Electric Co. shares have plunged more than 20 percent in Wednesday trading after the utility said in a regulatory filing that it could face a significant financial hit if its equipment is found to be the cause of the deadliest fire in California history.

At least 48 people have been confirmed dead in the Northern California fire that started last Thursday and leveled the town of Paradise. Victims of the fire have filed a lawsuit accusing PG&E of causing the blaze.

PG&E told state regulators last week that it experienced a problem with a transmission line in the area of the fire just before the blaze erupted.

In filing late Tuesday with the Securities and Exchange Commission, PG&E said it had liability insurance of $1.4 billion for wildfire events through July 31, 2019.

If its equipment is to blame, the utility warned the costs could exceed the insurance coverage and have a “material impact” on its financial condition.

PG&E’s stock is trading at its lowest level in more than a decade after losing about half its value in the past four days.

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10 a.m.

Authorities say they are investigating a third apparent fire-related death in the burn zone of a Southern California wildfire.

The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department said Wednesday that human remains were found in a burned home in the suburban Agoura Hills area of the county.

Two deaths were previously linked to the so-called Woolsey Fire. Two adults were found last week in a car overtaken by flames. They have not been identified.

In Northern California, at least 48 people have been confirmed dead in a fire that also left hundreds missing.

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9:30 a.m.

The Los Angeles County coroner’s office says it is responding to reports of human remains found within the burn zone of a Southern California wildfire.

Coroner’s spokeswoman Sarah Ardalani says Wednesday that the body was found in the Agoura Hills area of Los Angeles County.

She was unable to confirm whether the body was burned.

The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department and fire information officers were not immediately able to confirm the death and whether it was related to the fire.

Two deaths were previously linked to the so-called Woolsey Fire that started last Thursday.

A pair of adults were found last week in a car overtaken by flames. They have not been identified.

In Northern California, at least 48 people have been confirmed dead in a fire that also started Thursday. Hundreds remain missing.

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7:50 a.m.

A fire official says fire crews aided by cooler weather and diminishing winds have managed to slow the spread of a massive Northern California blaze that killed at least 48 people.

California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection spokesman Scott McLean said Wednesday the blaze has charred 210 square miles (544 square kilometers) and that it is one-third contained.

He says strong winds have subsided and humidity is up, helping more than 5,600 firefighters.

McLean says the fire that leveled the town of Paradise “is looking really good at the moment.”

He says aircraft including 21 helicopters are helping in the effort to halt the fire that destroyed 7,600 homes.

But McLean says smoke is heavy and low to the ground and that could affect visibility and hamper their efforts.

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7:40 a.m.

Gusty Santa Ana winds continue to fan Southern California wildfires but forecasters say a change in the weather is coming.

The fire west of Los Angeles that killed two people flared again before sunrise Wednesday but the flames are devouring vegetation in rugged, uninhabited mountains.

The National Weather Service says winds will weaken and critical fire danger warnings will expire by evening.

Some evacuations remain in place but thousands of residents have been allowed to return home. An estimated 435 buildings have been counted destroyed so far and assessments are continuing.

The fire has scorched more than 152 square miles (394 square kilometers) since last week and is 47 percent contained.

A new fire erupted late Tuesday in the Fontana area of San Bernardino County but firefighters reported good progress overnight, holding the blaze to 147 acres (59 hectares).

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12 a.m.

A message board at a shelter for the many people who fled California’s deadliest wildfire is filled with photos of the missing, as well as pleas for any information about relatives and friends.

Authorities on Tuesday reported six more fatalities from the Northern California blaze, bringing the total number of dead so far to 48. They haven’t disclosed the total number still missing, but earlier in the week that figure was more than 200.

Butte County Sheriff Kory Honea said a list of the missing would be released soon and that 100 National Guard troops would help teams already looking for remains.

As authorities increased efforts, people waited for any word on those still not found.

Greg Gibson was one of the people searching the message board Tuesday, hoping to find information about his neighbors. They’ve been reported missing, but he doesn’t know if they tried to escape or hesitated a few minutes longer than he did before fleeing Paradise, the town of 27,000 which was consumed last Thursday. About 7,700 homes were destroyed.

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