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PG&E Must Respond to Attorney General About Role in Camp Fire by New Year's Eve

Even though the cause of the Camp Fire is still under investigation, a state prosecutor is saying PG&E may end up facing manslaughter charges for causing the incident.

Posted: Dec 30, 2018 4:46 PM
Updated: Dec 31, 2018 9:27 AM

Updated 5:30 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 30, 2018 - California's Attorney General has told a federal judge it is possible that PG&E could face charges including manslaughter. That could be the case if investigators find reckless operation of power equipment caused any deadly wildfires in the past two years.

Camp Fire survivor Jamie Ramey told CNN reporter Doug Johnson, "The morning of the fire we were concerned -- but we've seen fire in that area all the time."

"Nothing really triggered me, myself, to panic," she said, emphasizing that it was her dad that saved their lives.

86 other people were not so lucky. Reporter Johnson said that California's top prosecutor believes  PG&E could, in theory, be charged with their deaths.

Private attorney Mike Danko explained "The District Attorney or the Attorney General generally does not charge a company. The reason is that you can't put the company in jail."

Danko's firm represents around 900 clients who lost their homes to the Camp Fire in and around Paradise. He is suing PG&E on their behalf. He explains Attorney General Xavier Becerra's announcement came from a recently submitted brief which details multiple possible consequences PG&E could face under state law.

The document was requested by a federal judge overseeing PG&E's probation in a criminal case regarding the 2010 San Bruno gas line explosion. Danko explained that the judge asked the Attorney General to explain to the court what the law is as far as criminal liability.

As part of the probation hearing, PG&E must also submit what role it played, if any, in starting the Camp Fire. That request by the judge has a deadline of Monday.

Attorney Danko said, "They really have to own up to them or else it's going to be big trouble for PG&E." The document due on Monday is one Danko says could expedite his clients' lawsuits. He said if his firm asked PG&E to tell them what their role was, it would take months and months to get to the bottom of it.

Fire survivor Ramey says she is unsure if PG&E should be charged with anything. "Honestly, I hadn't heard anything about that until right now," she explained. She says she is still processing the information. "I don't know. There were a lot of lives lost," she added. 

PG&E responded to the Deputy Attorney General saying: "PG&E'S most important responsibility is public and workforce safety. Our focus continues to be on assessing our infrastructure to further enhance safety and helping our customers continue to recover and rebuild. Throughout our service area, we are committed to doing everything we can to help further reduce the risk of wildfire."

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SACRAMENTO, Calif. - PG&E could now face manslaughter charges if found guilty of starting the Camp Fire, says California's top prosecutor, Deputy Attorney General Nicholas Fogg.

The official cause of the fire is still under investigation, but the first flames spotted were located directly under a PG&E high-voltage tower.

The Camp Fire was the deadliest wildfire in the state's history.

Please click this link to see all the Action News Now FIRE WATCH stories, including coverage of the Camp Fire.

California Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

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