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PG&E charged with manslaughter after equipment sparked deadly California wildfire in 2020




  • In Science
  • 2021-09-24 18:48:44Z
  • By Business Insider
In this Sept. 27, 2020, file photo, a house burns on Platina Road at the Zogg Fire near Ono, Calif.
In this Sept. 27, 2020, file photo, a house burns on Platina Road at the Zogg Fire near Ono, Calif.  
  • Pacific Gas and Electric was charged on Friday with manslaughter and other crimes.

  • It follows a 2020 California blaze that neglected equipment was suspected of igniting, AP reported.

  • Four people were killed and hundreds of homes were destroyed in the wildfire.

  • Visit Insider's homepage for more stories.

Pacific Gas and Electric was charged on Friday with manslaughter and other crimes following a Northern California blaze last year that prosecutors allege was started by neglected equipment, the Associated Press reported.

Shasta County District Attorney Stephanie Bridgett announced 31 charges against the utility company, including 11 felonies.

State prosecutors said the September 2020 fire began after a pine tree fell on a PG&E transmission line and scorched the communities in the Sierra Nevada, the report said. The blaze quickly grew out of control, killing four people and incinerating hundreds of homes.

California's Shasta and Tehama counties sued PG&E alleging negligence, and said the company didn't remove the tree, even though it had been marked to be taken down two years earlier, the Associated Press reported.

PG&E CEO Patti Poppe told Insider in an email that the company is doing all it can to prevent wildfires.

"Though it may feel satisfying for the company of PG&E to be charged with a crime, what I know is the company of PG&E is people, 40,000 people who get up every day to make it safe and to end catastrophic wildfire and tragedies like this," Poppe said. "Let's be clear, my coworkers are not criminals. We welcome our day in court so people can learn just that."

"I came to PG&E to make it right and make it safe, which is a commitment that my 40,000 coworkers and contract partners all share," she added. "We've already resolved many victim claims arising from the Zogg Fire, along with the claims by the counties of Shasta and Tehama. And we are working hard to resolve the remaining claims."

Last year, PG&E pleaded guilty to 84 counts of involuntary manslaughter from a 2018 blaze sparked by a neglected electrical grid.

That fire destroyed the town of Paradise, along with 10,000 homes, the AP reported, leading to hundreds of lawsuits and causing the company to file for bankruptcy in 2019.

PG&E already faced charges in April from the Sonoma County district attorney's office after a 2019 fire that displaced 200,000 people, according to the Associated Press. It's also on criminal probation after a 2010 pipeline explosion near San Francisco that killed eight people.

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