PG&E Probably Caused Deadly Camp and Paradise Fires

Paradise Fire Memorial

Paradise Fire Memorial

The nation's largest utility, Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) released a statement on Thursday that said its equipment was probably the cause of last November's Camp Fire and the subsequent blaze that decimated Paradise, California. In total, the Camp Fire took the lives of 86 people, burned 150,000 acres and destroyed 19,000 buildings.

The cause of the Camp Fire is still being investigated by California state officials, but PG&E stated that it "believes it is probable that its equipment will be determined to be an ignition point of the 2018 Camp Fire."

The power giant, which serves roughly 16 million people in northern and central California has faced harsh criticism from lawmakers and consumer groups for inadequately maintaining their network of transmission lines and conductors and ultimately failing to prevent fires. In response, PG&E's John Simon said “We recognize that more must be done to adapt to and address the increasing threat of wildfires and extreme weather in order to keep our customers and communities safe.”

With $30 billion in claims filed against it, PG&E filed for bankruptcy on January 29, 2019. As part of their Chapter 11 reorganization, the company already halted payments to some wildfire victims and will likely address all other claims and settlements in its bankruptcy proceedings.

Equipment owned by PG&E was also thought to be partially responsible for the October 2017 Tubbs Fire which killed at least 22 people, burned 36,000 acres, and destroyed 5,600 structures in Sonoma County. However, PG&E was cleared of responsibility by state officials in January of 2019.

Photos: Getty Images

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