SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) – California prosecutors filed 33 criminal charges on Tuesday accusing Pacific Gas & Electric of inadvertently harming six firefighters and endangering public health with smoke. And the ash in the 2019 fire that blamed its equipment.
The country’s largest utility has denied any crime, although it admitted its transmission lines sparked a fire.
Sonoma County District Attorneys charged the utility with five felony counts and 28 felony counts in the Kincade Fire in October 2019 north of San Francisco, including setting up a fire. By negligence, which was seriously injured by six firefighters. Among the unidentified firefighters were members of the fire team, at least two inmates and out-of-state contractors, one of whom suffered second- and third-degree burns to the legs and torso.
Fire officials said the PG&E transmission line sparked the fire, destroying 374 buildings and causing nearly 100,000 people to flee as the fire spread over 120 square miles (311 square kilometers), prosecutors said it was the largest evacuation in the history of the fire. County, which includes all of the cities Healdsburg, Windsor and Geyserville.
The associated costs and improvements accuse the company of destroying its living structures and releasing airborne contaminants. “Regardless of the risk of serious bodily injury” from toxic wildfire smoke and associated dust and ash, which will be detrimental to public health. They accused the utility of failing to maintain the facility, including transmission lines, amid related crime charges.
District Attorney Jill Ravitch said she and other investigators went to the ignition of the fire as soon as it was safe and has since worked with states and independent experts to determine the cause and responsibility of the blaze.
Ravitch said the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection reported to her office in July that a fire occurred when cables on a transmission tower lack strong winds and generate an electric arc when it comes into contact with the tower. That caused the molten material to fall into the dry vegetation below and set a fire that took 15 days to contain, she said.
She said her office investigation included interviews with dozens of witnesses, search warrants and hundreds of thousands of pages of audits of documents. Prosecutors also consulted with law enforcement and regulators and other independent experts.
PG&E said in a statement it acknowledged the findings that transmission lines in the Geyserville geothermal field, northeast of Geyserville, set fire “with the spirit of working to do what is right for the victim,” although it has not yet been seen. Report or evidence From state fire investigators
“However, we don’t believe crime will take place here,” the company said in a statement. “We remain committed to making it right for everyone affected and working to reduce the risk of wildfires in our systems. Next “
Tuesday’s bill is a similar recent issue for a utility serving more than 16 million people in Northern California.
PG & E’s alleged criminal negligence in the Sonoma County wildfire comes as the company mired in a series of deadly inferno bankruptcy failures that were triggered by a utility crash device in During 2017 and 2018
The deadliest in Butte County wiped out Paradise City from the deadliest and deadliest wildfire in California’s recorded history, PG&E pleaded guilty to 84 counts of involuntary manslaughter in a June fire. come
Although Bill Johnson, PG & E’s chief executive, appeared in court to plead guilty to some of the surviving families. But no one from the company had to go to jail, but the company paid the highest fines instead. $ 4 million
PG&E received bankruptcy protection shortly after pleading and guilty settlement to cover up the damage caused by the fight schedule. The settlement includes a $ 13.5 billion fund for early wildfire victims, distributing some to help people rebuild their lives.
State investigators last month said the Northern California wildfires that killed four people and destroyed more than 200 buildings last year were sparked when branches touched the Zogg Fire utility power line. The wind-driven raging raged through rural communities in Shasta and Tehama in September and October.
The Sonoma County wildfire also sparked the hack of a federal judge overseeing PG & E’s ongoing criminal probation for the 2010 natural gas pipe explosion that struck the neighborhood. In San Bruno, a suburb in the south of San Francisco.
US area William Alsup, which has repeatedly unwrapped PG&E due to poor-quality maintenance of equipment, is considering. Ordering a change that could result in utilities being forced to shut down power lines in dry and windy periods more often than in recent years.
Associated Press contributing writer Michael Liedtke from San Francisco.