According to November 25th official Cal Fire tweets of incident information, the Butte County Camp fire is finally 100% contained. The Northern California wildfire, which began on November 8th, took an immense toll; 153,336 acres burned, 13,972 homes, 528 businesses and 4,293 other buildings destroyed, at least 3 firefighters injured and 85 lives confirmed lost. And authorities expect the death toll to continue to rise as the Washington Post reports 296 people still missing.
Who Started The Fire?
Although the cause of this devastating fire, one of the deadliest in California history, is still under investigation, local public utility Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) has been identified by regulators as potentially responsible. PG&E filed two incident reports with the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) regarding outages related to equipment issues in high voltage power lines owned and operated by the utility.
The first outage was reported in an area near Pulga, at 6:15 am on November 8 the morning the Camp fire started, just minutes before wildfires were spotted in the area. The second outage, near the rural Concow area of Butte County, occurred only 30 min after the first incident, however PG&E’s report was not filed until 8 days later. PG&E also acknowledges that firefighters were called to both locations. Additionally, earlier plans made by the utility to cut power to the areas due to potentially hazardous weather conditions were canceled the same day these incidents took place. PG&E is cooperating with CPUC investigators who are currently awaiting access to inspect fire sites for problems with facility maintenance, vegetation management and emergency preparedness and response.
PG&E Has a Track Record of Danger
PG&E’s track record of responsibility for California wildfires has not been good. According to the San Francisco Chronicle, investigations have found faulty PG&E equipment to be the cause of at least 16 different Northern California wildfires in 2017 alone.
PG&E was also found to have violated safety laws in 11 of those fires. Already potentially liable for billions of dollars for previous fires, PG&E is again under regulatory scrutiny and if found to be negligent of safely maintaining its power lines, could be liable for billions more in claims made by Camp fire victims. Numerous survivors of the Camp fire who suffered injuries and lost homes and businesses may be eligible to receive compensation for damages and suffering caused by this devastating fire.
Two lawsuits have already been filed alleging a failure of PG&E to implement proper safety measures to prevent the Camp fire. GJEL Accident Attorneys are currently investigating PG&E’s involvement and are committed to helping victims. They are offering free case evaluations to explore legal rights and can work with victims to help recover money for pain and suffering, loss of home or business, death and property damage.
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