California utility to pay $55 million for large wildfires | Nation

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Pacific Gas & Electric has agreed to pay greater than $55 million to keep away from felony prosecution for 2 main wildfires began by ageing Northern California energy traces belonging to the nation’s largest utility, prosecutors introduced Monday.

PG&E doesn’t admit wrongdoing within the two settlements reached with prosecutors for final 12 months’s Dixie Fire — one of many largest wildfires in California’s historical past — and the 2019 Kincade Fire in Sonoma County. The offers expedite injury funds to the tons of of individuals whose houses have been destroyed.

PG&E additionally will submit to 5 years of oversight by an unbiased monitor just like the supervision it confronted throughout 5 years of felony probation after it was convicted for misconduct that contributed to its pure gasoline explosion that killed eight folks in 2010.

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Pacific Gas & Electric has been blamed for greater than 30 wildfires since 2017 that worn out greater than 23,000 houses and companies and killed greater than 100 folks. It beforehand reached settlements with wildfire victims of greater than $25.5 billion.

The Dixie Fire burned practically 1 million acres (3,900 sq. kilometers) in Butte, Plumas, Lassen, Shasta, and Tehama counties and destroyed greater than 1,300 houses and different buildings. The blaze was brought on by a tree hitting electrical distribution traces west of a dam within the Sierra Nevada, the place the hearth started on July 13, 2021, based on investigators with the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.

The settlement for the Dixie Fire was made by district attorneys in Plumas, Lassen, Tehama, Shasta and Butte counties, who had not but filed fees.

Sonoma County prosecutors filed 33 felony fees final 12 months accusing PG&E of inadvertently injuring six firefighters and endangering public well being with smoke and ash from the 2019 Kincade Fire.

Fire officers stated a PG&E transmission line sparked the hearth, which destroyed 374 buildings in wine nation and precipitated practically 100,000 folks to flee because it burned by 120 sq. miles (311 sq. kilometers). It was the biggest evacuation within the county’s historical past, prosecutors stated, together with your complete cities of Healdsburg, Windsor and Geyserville.

The utility’s federal probation resulted in late January, elevating worries from the decide who had been utilizing his powers to supervise the utility to attempt to pressure administration to cut back the hearth dangers posed by its crumbling energy traces. At the time PG&E emerged from the probation, U.S. District Judge William Alsup warned PG&E remained a “continuing menace to California” and urged state prosecutors to attempt to rein within the firm.

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