Utility company PG&E recently denied accusations of criminal liability for its involvement and role in the 2019 wildfire that ravaged 78,000 acres across Northern California, saying a local prosecutor warped evidence and facts to hold them accountable.
Last month, Sonoma County District Attorney Jill Ravitch announced charges against PG&E, including 33 counts related to the Kincade Fire. However, the utility company said it took responsibility for starting the fire with its equipment but denied 25 other counts.
In a statement, the company expressed its sympathies to the affected families who lost their homes and businesses in the fire and the responding firefighters who were injured. They also said the majority of the charges should be dismissed.
California officials have health and safety codes that make it illegal to emit air contaminants. PG&E is not included in the list of industries that fall under those laws and regulations, the company said. The statement said the crimes do not apply to companies who started a wildfire.
In 2019, PG&E was forced into bankruptcy after being found responsible for starting several wildfires with its equipment. Last year, the utility company pleaded guilty to 84 counts of involuntary manslaughter for California history’s deadliest fire in 2018. Since 2016, the company has been on probation after being convicted for violating safety regulations, Bloomberg reported.
PG&E Chief Executive Officer Patricia K. Poppe said Ravitch “has a constituency” when asked about the criminal charges related to the Kincade Fire. “She’s elected. She has a job to do. We disagree with those charges. We don’t think there’s a criminal basis for those charges. We will fight those charges,” she said.