SAN FRANCISCO (AP) -A California utility says any determination that it started a wildfire by recklessly operating power lines in violation of the law would bear on its probation in a criminal case.
Pacific Gas & Electric Co. said in a court filing late Monday that such a finding would implicate the requirement that it not commit any other crime while on probation.
A U.S. judge had asked the company to explain any role it may have played in a massive wildfire that destroyed the Northern California town of Paradise and killed at least 86 people. Judge William Alsup also wanted to know how any determination that PG&E's reckless operation of power lines caused a wildfire would affect the criminal sentence he is overseeing against the utility.
That 2017 sentence followed PG&E's conviction on charges stemming from a deadly 2010 gas pipeline explosion in the San Francisco Bay Area.
PG&E said in its filing that state fire officials had yet to release their conclusions about the fire that destroyed Paradise. The company, however, said PG&E employees were among the first to observe the fire.
The following is the official statement from the utility:
“As required by Judge Alsup, we have responded to a series of questions he posed regarding the 2017 and 2018 California wildfires. The families impacted by the devastating Camp Fire are our customers, our neighbors and our friends. Our hearts go out to those who have lost so much, and we remain focused on supporting them through the recovery and rebuilding process. We continue to assess our infrastructure with the goal of further enhancing safety and helping protect all of the customers we serve from the ever-increasing threat of wildfires. PG&E’s most important responsibility is public and employee safety and we are committed to working together with our state and community partners and across all sectors and disciplines to develop comprehensive, long-term safety solutions for the future."