Victims of California Wildfire Sue PG&E for Alleged Negligence

Victims of California’s deadly wildfire have filed a lawsuit against PG&E Corp. claiming that the company was negligent and violated health and safety codes, according to Reuters.

The lawsuit was filed last Tuesday in San Francisco County Superior Court by three law firms.

In response to the lawsuit, PG&E said in a statement, “It’s important to remember that the cause (of the “Camp Fire”) has yet to be determined. Right now, our primary focus is on the communities, supporting first responders and getting our crews positioned and ready to respond when we get access, so that we can safely restore gas and electricity to our customers.”

The Camp Fire has nearly destroyed the town of Paradise in Butte County, which sits in the Sierra foothills.

PG&E and Southern California Edison reported to regulators that they experienced issues with substations or transmission lines in areas around the times the fire was first reported.

The plaintiffs in the lawsuit allege that PG&E failed to properly repair, maintain and replace its equipment. The lawsuit claims that prior to the fire, PG&E had warned customers it might turn off power due to a high risk of wildfires.

“Despite its own recognition of these impending hazardous conditions, on the day of the Camp Fire’s ignition, PG&E ultimately made the decision not to proceed with its plans for a power shutoff,” the lawsuit states.

The utility turned off power to 60,000 customers to prevent wildfires, as high winds threatened to down power lines and trees.

Investigators are still trying to determine the cause of the Camp Fire and Woolsey Fire that have ravaged southern California.

Mike Ramsey, Butte County District Attorney, told the media last Wednesday that attributing the fire to the utility company was “speculative.” But he noted that officials from Cal Fire arrived immediately after the fire began to ensure that equipment and other evidence would be preserved for an investigation.