PG&E Stock Spikes 8% After Arson Arrest in Wine Country Fire

PG&E California fire (Elijah Nouvelage / Getty)
Elijah Nouvelage / Getty

Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) stock spiked up by 8.3 percent on Tuesday following a report that a suspected arsonist Jesus Fabian Gonzalez was arrested regarding at least one Wine Country fire.

Pacific Gas & Electric (PCG:NYSE) stock had plummeted by 27 percent in the last week after 75-miles an hour wind gusts were blamed on the downing of over a dozen powerlines and numerous exploding transformers in the Wine Country.

California’s largest utility warned, “The historic wind event that swept across PG&E service area late Sunday and early Monday packed hurricane-strength winds in excess of 75 mph in some cases.”

Wind speeds are important for financial liability purposes, because under California Public Utility rules, powerlines must be “rated” to sustain 56 mile-per-hour winds for 60 seconds. Hurricane winds are defined as having a minimum speed of 75 miles per hour for 60 seconds.

California’s four-county Wine Country region has already suffered America’s deadliest fire with 41 fatalities, 88 people still missing, 188,000 acres burned, and at least $3 billion worth of homes and businesses destroyed, according to CalFire.

But PCG stock vaulted $4.48 to settle at $57.88 in after-hours trading on Tuesday, following reports that Jesus Fabian Gonzalez, 29, a homeless man and the subject of an ICE detainer request, was arrested and charged with felony arson.

Sonoma County Sheriffs arrested Mr. Gonzalez at Maxwell Regional Park, after a series of reports of ongoing fires in the region. Jesus Fabian Gonzalez was observed around 3:00 p.m. PDT wearing a jacket and walking “out of the creek area and a plume of smoke behind him,” according to the Santa Rosa Press Democrat.

Mr. Gonzalez, who is reportedly known by law enforcement to have been living under a nearby bridge, claimed he was cold and had lit the fire to stay warm. But it was a balmy 78 degrees when Mr. Gonzalez and the plume of smoke were first observed.

There were 11,000 firefighters, 373 fire engines, 21 helicopters, 47 bulldozers and 30 water trucks that converged on Sonoma, Napa, Mendocino and Lake counties. CalFire reports that lower winds and an approaching Pacific Front allowed crews to make tremendous progress containing the remaining seven major fires, including: Sulfur Fire = 99 percent; Tubbs Fire = 82 percent; Atlas Fire = 77 percent; Nuns Fire = 68 percent; Redwood Fire = 60 percent; Pocket Fire = 58 percent; and the Oakmont Fire = 27 percent.

With the Pacific Front continuing to move down the North Coast, AccuWeather projects that the high temperature across the Wine Country will fall from 87 degrees (and extremely dry) on Tuesday, to 67 degrees on Thursday, with a 65 percent chance of rain on Thursday.

Despite heavy smoke hanging over the valleys, CalFire evacuations orders have been lifted for all of Mendocino County; for the area north of Highway 128l and for unincorporated neighborhoods east of Sonoma, East Napa, Geyserville and Oakmont.

Please click here to view the full Wine Country evacuation map  and click here for updates on each of the 36 “active fires” still burning in California.


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