November 13, 2018 — San Diego, CA. In yet another massive wildfire in northern California, called the Camp Fire, a woman from Pulga California (Butte County) stated that PG&E told her via an email the day before the fire started that the utility had plans to fix one of the transmission towers in the area. This is telling as PG&E last January faced multiple lawsuits from lack of maintenance of it’s power lines that allegedly started both the Napa and Sonoma wildfires.
According to Betsy Ann Cowley, owner of the Town of Pulga, “This needs to become a class-action lawsuit,” she said. “They don’t help people pay to rebuild their homes.”
As of this writing it still unclear of what may have started this fire, but according to the Bay Area News Group who reviewed fire fighter radio transmissions seemed to indicate a major problem was at hand. Fire fighters reportedly found numerous downed power lines and a bush fire moving beneath the high-tension wires about a mile northeast of Pulga by Poe Dam.
On Friday November 9 PG&E issued a filing to the CPUC that it had detected an outage on a transmission line in Butte County, occurring approximately 15 minutes before the Camp Fire was first reported and in the same location Cal Fire pinpointed as the origin. The utility said that a recent aerial inspection had detected damage to a transmission tower on that same transmission line a mile northeast of the town of Pulga “in the area of the Camp Fire.”
Here is the actual text from the filing:
Not the first time PG&E has come under scrutiny.
In early January 2018, the California Public Utilities Commission revealed that damaged PG&E equipment was discovered at the origin sites of four of the major North Bay fires: Nuns, Atlas, Patrick, and Tubbs. The Wine Country wildfires could be the largest man-made disaster in the U.S.
PG&E responds to the letter. Spokesman Mr. Donald Cutler issued this statement:
“Since the wildfire began Sunday night, in the cases where we have found instances of wires down, broken poles and impacted infrastructure, we have reported those to the commission and continued to share that information with CalFire”.
Past PG&E lawsuits.
This isn’t the first time a large utility company has been successfully sued. In San Diego County, San Diego Gas & Electric paid more than $2 billion for 2007 wildfires that destroyed more than 1,200 homes and killed two people.
PG&E faced more than $1 billion in claims after Cal Fire investigators found it responsible for the 2015 Butte fire, which destroyed 549 homes and also killed two people.
PG&E was also successfully sued for the massive San Bruno natural gas line explosion in 2010 that killed 8 people. PG&E settled and paid $565 million to cover 170 claims from that lawsuit. The case looked at faulty welding and cited lack of proper maintenance of the gas line.
In 1999 PG&E paid out $29 million settlement for a 1994 wildfire in the Sierra foothills after the California Public Utilities Commission found they diverted funds from its tree trimming services.
The lawyers and attorneys at Hood National Law Group are investigating and accepting Camp Fire / Paradise, Butte Country PG&E wildfire lawsuit claims. With these lawsuits we expect large cash claim settlements from any fund that may be earmarked by utility company PG&E to cover wildfire victims in the Paradise California area. (PG&E in the past allocated $800 million in such a fund).