Charges were filed against Pacific Gas & Electric on Friday over the involuntary manslaughter and other crimes following the spark of a Northern California wildfire believed to be caused by its equipment, leaving four individuals dead and hundreds of homes destroyed last year, according to prosecutors.
Friday’s update was the recent legal move against PG&E. Last year, the largest utility in the nation pleaded guilty to 84 counts of involuntary manslaughter connected to the 2018 fire accident sparked by its deserted electrical grid. The blaze was considered to be the deadliest wildfire in the county in a century and had left almost the town of Paradise wiped out.
A total of 31 charges were announced by Shasta County District Attorney Stephanie Bridgett against PG&E. Included here were 11 felonies.
The attorney said the utility did not deliver its legal obligations, adding that its “failure was reckless and criminally negligent, and it resulted in the death of four people.”
If sentenced, a fine for each casualty in the Zogg Fire will be applied to PG&E. A corporation “can’t go to jail, so we’re talking fines, fees, the ability for the court to order remedial and corrective measures,” according to Bridgett.
“One of our primary functions here is to hold them responsible and let the surviving families know that their loved one did not die in vain,” she added.
But the utility’s CEO Patti Poppe argued that the fire prevention shortcomings are not considered a crime.
“This was a tragedy, four people died. And my coworkers are working so hard to prevent fires and the catastrophic losses that come with them. They have dedicated their careers to it, criminalizing their judgment is not right,” the CEO said in a statement, as reported by ABC7.
Exploded on Sept. 27 last year, the Zogg Fire has devoured rough terrain and affected small communities located west of Redding. It left four persons dead and 200 homes burned.