Wildfire Victim Advocates Attorney Frank Pitre Responds to CAL Fire Report Highlighting Multiple PG&E Failures

Posted in Uncategorized on June 8, 2018

Plaintiffs Co-Counsel and Wildfire Victim Advocates attorney Frank Pitre spoke on behalf of North Bay Fire victims in response to the latest report issued by the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CAL FIRE), determining 12 wildfires that swept through California’s Wine Country in October 2017 were caused by electric power and distribution lines, conductors and the failure of power poles associated with Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E).

“The CAL FIRE summary issued a wholesale indictment of PG&E’s failed risk management practices,” said Attorney Pitre. “These events were foreseeable risks that were preventable, and the root cause of what happened all points to failed decisions by those responsible for managing infrastructure and vegetation management inspection practices.”

Watch the press conference here.

Due to evidence of alleged violations of state law, CAL Fire investigators have referred eight of the 12 fires listed below, including the Adobe, Atlas, Blue, Norrbom, Partrick, Pocket, Pythian and Sulphur fires, to the appropriate county District Attorney’s offices for further review.

Atlas Fire: CAL FIRE investigators determined the fire started in two locations. At one location, it was determined a large limb broke from a tree and came into contact with a PG&E power line. At the second location, investigators determined a tree fell into the same line. The fire burned a total of 51,624 acres in Napa County, destroyed 783 structures and claimed six lives.

Pocket Fire: CAL FIRE has determined the fire was caused by the top of an oak tree breaking and coming into contact with PG&E power lines. The fire burned a total of 17,357 acres in Sonoma County and destroyed six structures.

Redwood Fire: CAL FIRE has determined the fire started in two locations and was caused by tree or parts of trees falling onto PG&E power lines. The Mendocino County fire burned a total of 36,523 acres, destroyed 543 structures and claimed nine lives.

Sulphur Fire: CAL FIRE investigators determined the fire was caused by the failure of a PG&E owned power pole, resulting in the power lines and equipment coming in contact with the ground. The fire burned a total of 2,207 acres in Lake County and destroyed 162 structures.

The Adobe/Norrbom/Nuns/Partrick/Pythian fires were part of a series of fires in Sonoma and Napa counties that merged, burning a combined total of 56,556 acres, destroyed 1,355 structures and claiming three lives. CAL Fire investigators determined:

  • Adobe Fire was caused by a eucalyptus tree falling into a PG&E power line.
  • Norrbom Fire was caused by a tree falling and coming in contact with PG&E power lines.
  • Nuns Fire was caused by a broken top of a tree coming in contact with a power line.
  • Partrick Fire was caused by an oak tree falling into PG&E power lines.
  • Pythian Fire was caused by a downed power line after PG&E attempted to re-energize the line.

Blue Fire: CAL FIRE investigators have determined a PG&E power line conductor separated from a connector, causing the conductor to fall to the ground, starting the fire. The fire in Humboldt County burned a total of 20 acres.

Cherokee Fire: CAL FIRE investigators have determined the cause of the fire was a result of tree limbs coming into contact with PG&E power lines. The fire burned a total of 8,417 acres in Butte County and destroyed six structures.

37 Fire: CAL FIRE investigators have determined the cause of the fire was electrical and was associated with the PG&E distribution lines in the area. The fire in Sonoma County burned a total of 1,660 acres and destroyed three structures.

The North Bay Fires killed 44 people, burned at least 245,000 acres and caused more than $9.4 billion in insured losses. CAL Fire investigators have not yet released their determination of the Tubbs Fire which claimed the lives of 24 people and destroyed 4,650 homes in Sonoma County.

Attorneys with Wildfire Victim Advocates serve on the Plaintiffs Executive Committee in litigation against PG&E, representing thousands of victims and survivors who have been impacted by the North Bay Fires. If you or someone you love has been affected by the Wine Country Fires, call (707) 658-4415 to schedule a free consultation and discuss your legal options.

 Wildfire Victim Advocates includes the law firms of Cotchett, Pitre & McCarthy LLP, Walkup, Melodia, Kelly & Schoenberger, Dreyer Babich Buccola Wood Campora, LLP, Panish Shea & Boyle LLP and Abbey Weitzenberg Warren & Emery. These powerhouse firms have extensive experience in litigation against utility companies and, together, have recovered hundreds of millions of dollars for fire victims. Members of this consortium have led the charge for victims impacted by the 2010 San Bruno Gas Explosion, the 2015 Butte Fire in Amador County, and represent hundreds of victims of the 2017 North Bay Fires who have suffered total property loss or the loss of a loved one.

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