PG&E North Bay Fires Liability Attorneys
The Pacific Gas and Electric Company, or PG&E, is at the center of the ongoing investigations into what caused the Wine Country fires. On October 8, 2017, numerous wildfires broke out in northern California, eventually burning over 200,000 acres, destroying 8,400 structures, and killing 43 people. Firefighters are nearing full containment of the Wine Country fires while officials look into potential causes. PG&E announced that it is cooperating with the investigation, which will look at whether the utility company was negligent in the maintenance of its power structures.
PG&E’s History of Negligence
This isn’t the first time PG&E has been in the news for negligence leading to catastrophic incidents. The utility company recently received the maximum sentence for its role in the San Bruno gas pipeline explosion of 2010. The San Bruno disaster killed eight people and injured dozens of others. The courts found PG&E guilty of six felonies relating to the explosion and sentenced the company with a $3 million fine, 10,000 hours of community service, and a five-year probation period.
The investigation of the explosion found improperly installed gas pipelines and failure to test operating pressure, among other acts of negligence.
In 2015, a Cal Fire investigation named PG&E as the leading cause of the Butte Fire, which claimed two lives, burned 71,780 acres and destroyed more than 500 homes and other buildings. A PG&E-hired tree-trimming crew failed to remove a tree that later fell, struck a power line, and sparked the fire. Attorney Steve Campora, another involved in the North Bay Fires Consortium, was one of the attorneys representing those who lost property in this fire. If you work with the Consortium for assistance with the most recent wildfires, rest assured you’re getting the most experienced lawyers on the subject in the region.
PG&E’s Probable Involvement in the Wine Country Wildfires
In the most recent allegations against PG&E, two agencies (Cal Fire and the California Public Utilities Commission) are conducting investigations to see if the utility company could be at least partially responsible for the North Bay Fires. So far, neither agency has released evidence of PG&E’s involvement. Likely points of investigation are PG&E’s possible negligence in the maintenance of its power poles and electrical lines, as well as inadequate trimming of vegetation near power lines.
Reports in Yuba County from firefighters cited fallen power lines, as did similar reports in Napa and Sonoma Counties. PG&E reasonably should have known about the extreme, fire-prone conditions in the area and taken steps to prevent wildfires from breaking out. If it failed in these duties, contributing to the fires, the courts could hold the company liable for victims’ damages. Yet another lawsuit against PG&E could bankrupt the company. State Senator Jerry Hill has expressed wishes to “split” PG&E if it did in fact cause the latest wildfires. It could take months for agencies to complete their investigations. Contact the North Bay Fires Consortium for more information.