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PG&E Faces Lawsuits in Camp Fire Investigation

Cal Fire has not yet determined an official cause of the Camp Fire but that’s not stopping people from already filing lawsuits against the power company.

Posted: Nov 14, 2018 6:40 PM

BUTTE COUNTY, Calif. - Cal Fire has not yet determined an official cause of the Camp Fire but that’s not stopping people from already filing lawsuits against the power company. 

A coalition of law firms known as Northern California Fire Lawyers filed a suit against the company on Tuesday, claiming that the utility company was negligent in failing to maintain infrastructure. It also claims that PG&E has a long history of safety lapses, causing injury and death.

This law firm also represented more than 200 families in the 2015 Butte Fire.

While there is no official cause of the fire, there are still many unanswered questions.

Betsy Cowley lives near where the fire started in Pulga. She said that the company sent her an email saying that they were worried about sparks from their transmission system near her property.

Cowley claims the company went to check the equipment Wednesday, the day before the fire started.

"If this is their fault, they need to be held accountable and they need to do more than just jack up their rates," Cowley said. "They need to help, or they need to go and we need to go solar."

Action News Now reporter Stephanie Lin spoke with a PG&E representative about the emails sent to Cowley.

"It [the email] was about future plan work on a transmission line in the area," said Blair Jones, a spokesman for PG&E. "So that's what that communication was about. We have not found any indications of sparks related to equipment. Again, it was about future plan work on a different transmission line in the area."

PG&E also claims that the transmission line was de-energized at the time the fire broke out.

"In fact, this transmission line was de-energized at the time that the Camp Fire started," Jones said.

PG&E did report an incident to the California Public Utilities Commission at a transmission line near where the fire started.
Cal Fire said that its investigation could take months.

PG&E's shares plunged more than 20 percent in trading on Wednesday after they filed the report. In the filing, PG&E said it had liability insurance of $1.4 billion for wildfire events through July 31 of 2019. The utility warned that the costs could exceed the insurance coverage and have a material impact on its financial condition.

PG&E's stock trading is at its lowest level in more than a decade after losing about half its value in the past four days.

California Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

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