According to an article that appeared in the October 12 issue of the Calaveras Enterprise, 548 homes were destroyed – up from the original estimate of 475. The newspaper reported that the increased number is the result of further investigations by inspectors at the local, state and federal level. Some structures that were originally considered outbuildings were actually residences, and other homes were found destroyed in remote areas.
Although the fire affected both Calaveras and Amador counties, only one destroyed home was in Amador County.
The fire burned nearly 71,000 acres and killed two people. It started on September 9 and was not fully contained until October 1. The Butte Wildfire has been ranked as the seventh most destructive wildfire in the state’s history, but that ranking may rise based on the new information. President Obama declared Calaveras County a disaster area, making residents affected by the fire eligible for federal assistance.
However helpful that federal money may be, it will only stretch so far for those who lost everything in the catastrophe. People affected by the fire may have legal recourse in the form of a lawsuit against Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E), which may have been responsible for the blaze.
According to a PG&E spokesperson, the fire might have ignited when a tree contacted a PG&E power line. As a result, the utility may be responsible for providing compensation to those who suffered losses.