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Hope & Legal Help for The Victims of the PG&E Fire

No network news segment or hard-edged newspaper editorial can properly express the terror and destruction caused by the California campfire of 2018. The vicious heat and mind-boggling speed with which the entire California city of Paradise was destroyed on November 8th cannot be translated. Nearly 90 lives claimed, and thousands of homes, hospitals, schools, and churches incinerated. It is now the most devastating California wildfire of all time. Surpassing even last year’s wine country fires and the Tubbs fire in Santa Rosa. In the face of such extreme tragedy, there is no choice but to carry on and most victims are doing it without a single, solitary, worldly possession. Many are choosing to seek legal routes against energy giant PG&E to recover some of their damages.

PG&E’s Responsibility in California Campfire

An electric safety issue report from PG&E on the night the campfire began, made to the California Public Utilities Commission, showed the company was aware of a dangerous transmission line issue at least 15 minutes before the fire started on Pulga Road in Butte County. Earlier the same day, technicians from the utility company observed damage to a transmission tower using the same line during an aerial patrol. Our law firm is investigating the cause of the fire. Our goal is to ascertain the negligence, if any, of PG&E and specific higher-ups who regularly failed to supervise fire risks from PG&E’s power and energy equipment.

PG&E, Pacific Gas and Electric, has a record of responsibility in several California wildfires, including those in wine country. In their 150 years of service, beginning in the gold rush era, the company has been implicated in approximately 17 other fires of varying degrees of ferocity. The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection stated PG&E violated 11 state laws in the 17 fires they determined to be the fault of PG&E. In June of 2017, the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection stated power lines from PG&E and their equipment failures were to blame for 12 of the devastating wildfires. The 1994 Trauner Fire resulted in $24 million in penalty fees and 739 counts of criminal negligence. The Rancho Cordova explosion of 2008 led to PG&E paying $38 million in CPUC fines. They paid more than $98 million in fines for the 2015 Butte fire in Calavera County in 2014. There are more. PG&E has also been found responsible for the 2010 San Bruno explosions, the 2011 Cupertino explosion, and 2017 North Bay fires.

The company applied a new strategy of cutting power in specific areas when wildfire weather conditions exist and enacted a Community Wildfire Safety Program which monitors wildfire risk and coordinates response work after CPUC issued its 2017 report. In addition, they enhanced their vegetation safety efforts and began partnering with customers in high-risk areas to manage safer spaces between power lines and the trees, brush, and debris that fuel wildfires. While enhancing existing programs and enacting more up to date protocols was a necessary and needed action, it was far too late for the victims of this latest and most deadly California fire.

Foundation for Lawsuit

The investigation of PG&E and their role in the campfire causation is still being determined. For many fire victims, the accusations are strong enough to warrant joining a lawsuit. The strongest allegations favoring a lawsuit include:

  • PG&E knew of the weather risk and alerted consumers to an upcoming power shut down 17 times on Twitter for two days before the fire started.
  • PG&E was aware of troubling issues with the tower and lines in the area the fire started much earlier in the day and included these issues in a report that night.
  • Firefighters responding to the scene of the fire located its starting point under PG&E transmission lines and reported downed power lines.
  • PG&E became aware of a second outage on the Big Bend line. Fifteen minuets later, firefighters reported the area as a possible second point of origin.
  • At 3:14 p.m., as the campfire was amping up, PG&E canceled the slated power outage, stating on Twitter that weather conditions no longer warranted a shutdown.
A Brief Timeline of the 2018 Campfire

November 8th

6:30 a.m. - Wildfire begins in Butte County on Pulga Road and is spurred on by strong winds.

6:51 a.m. - It has spread to over 10 acres as firefighters attempt to reach it in the remote area.

7:23 a.m. - Butte County Sheriff issues their first evacuation order for the community of Pulga on Twitter.

7:30 - Acceleration rate reaches the equivalent to a football field per second.

8:00 a.m. - Reaches Paradise, California and a second evacuation order is issued.

10:45 a.m. - Satellite imagery shows approximately 20,000 acres engulfed in flames.

6:00 p.m. - Fire has traveled over 17 miles in 12 hours and burned 55,000 acres.

November 25th - Two and a half weeks after fire starts, it is declared 100% contained. Authorities still struggle to identify all of the dead. Cal Fire has reported more than $15 billion in damages were sustained, approximately 155,000 acres burned, nearly 14,000 homes destroyed, over 500 business incinerated, and over 4,000 other types of buildings destroyed.

Tips for Filing a Claim After a Wildfire

The first step in filing a claim for your losses after a wildfire is to take pictures of the damage. It is helpful if homeowners have pictures of all their insured valuable before the fire. If you have insurance, provide all before and after pictures along with a detailed list of everything lost in the fire to the insurance agency. A comprehensive estimate of repair costs will also be required. Save the receipts for any temporary repairs you make and any living arrangements you must pay for.

Victims of the 2018 Campfire

There are more victims than those poor souls who lived through this savage fire. There are also those who died in its clutches and the loved ones they left behind to grieve. Many of us who must carry on, one foot in front of the other, are also shouldering the burden of a serious injury on top of losing everything but our lives. Now add hefty medical bills and a lengthy recuperation time and it is a recipe for depression and bankruptcy.

Contacting our law firm or another a lawyer is essential if you feel PG&E may be at fault for a fire that caused the death of a loved one. An experienced attorney can make sure you are included in any law suit that seeks justice for the victims of the PG&E fire.