PG&E Campfire Lawsuit
California is no stranger to wildfires. It’s an unfortunate situation for a state known for its diverse landscapes and natural beauty. But these wildfires are often no accident — more often than not someone or thing holds negligence in starting these massive disasters.
PG&E has been alleged to be responsible for the catastrophic wildfires that began over a year ago. The lawsuits are starting to pile up form those who are seeking the compensation they deserve after suffering massive property damage, personal injuries and business losses in the fires we have listed below:
- Atlas Fire (Napa and Solano County)
- Cascade Fire (Yuba County)
- Cherokee Fire (Butte County)
- Highway 37 Fire (Sonoma County)
- Honey Fire (Butte County)
- La Porte Fire (Butte County)
- Lobo Fire (Nevada County)
- Nuns Fire (Napa and Sonoma County)
- Pocket Fire (Sonoma County)
- Redwood Valley/Potter Fire (Mendocino County)
- Sulphuric (Lake County)
- Tubs (Sonoma and Napa County)
There is an increasing amount of evidence that points to an isolated, systematic failure from PG&E’s failure to properly maintain their equipment and protect the shrubbery which surrounded it.
There’s a good chance you or someone you know was affected by these fires — causing damages to your home, rental property or other monetary damages beyond what your regular California homeowners insurance policy covers.
Any residents living in the aforementioned counties should be informed on all the facts involving PG&E’s involvement in causing these dangerous rolling fires. Not only that but understanding where you can legally help in recovering the damages caused by these fires.
What is the PG&E Lawsuit About?
While many of the explanations for the most recent outbreak out wildfires in California are attributed to high winds and dry conditions, there is overwhelming evidence pointing to the negligence of PG&E officials to oversee and manage their policies regarding fire safety.
The California Public Utilities Commission published an independent report in May 2013 which found the aging foundations in PG&E’s equipment and products had significant safety issues. Especially in the case of poor weather conditions.
There is 10 years of data available which illustrates seasonal winds affecting the regions in California where these fires are most prone to taking place. PG&E should have been aware of this data when setting up their equipment in these areas.
The CAL FIRE records indicate electrical equipment is responsible for over 135 fires in Sonoma and Napa county over a four year stretch between 2011 and 2015.
It wasn’t until May of 2016 when California government regulators put PG&E on further notice that the North Bay Area of California faced much higher risks of power line failure and electrical failure because of the strong winds, dry surrounding vegetation and the other environmental factors which make California so vulnerable to wildfires.
Even with all of this knowledge available, Government audits of PG&E’s Sonoma division have revealed that over 3500 requests for repair or maintenance were left unattended. That’s right — complete and utter disregard for the safety of Californians.
PG&E is notorious for engaging in the practice of diverting funds away from tree trimming and other maintenance programs needed to keep a safe working environment around their electrical equipment. It’s no surprise they’ve climbed to having over $1.4 billion in profits this past year.
In addition to pure negligence in the name of profit, PG&E engages in outdated practices for regulating their power. One practice, in particular, includes using reclosers, or ACR’s as they’re known in the industry, to automatically restart their power following a service interruption.
A recloser will send an electrical pulse through the system’s power line when an interruption occurs, which creates an innate risk when using an overhead distribution network. Fire risk is always higher when overhead conductors rather than underground reticulation.
When these lines come in contact with trees or other vegetation, the surges created by the ACRs can immediately spark a blaze which can run out of control very quickly. Other power companies around the state like the San Diego Gas & Electric Company as well as the Southern California Edison have ceased this practice for the reason of fire safety.
Delving even further, PG&E failed to turn off power despite well-publicized weather forecasts of high winds, low humidity and dry conditions (all of which can contribute to an increased risk of fires). Once the disasters began, PG&E STILL did not turn off their power.
It wasn’t long before emergency Professionals all across the region started to receive calls about electrical outages, transformer explosions and sparking power lines which led to even more fires — compounding blaze onto the catastrophic blaze. All of which occurred in close proximity to PG&E power equipment.
PG&E reported these electrical outages hours after the fact and the scope of the fire damage encompassed 245,000 acres and 9,000 homes, businesses and other structures. Worst of all, 44 lives were lost as a result of these fires.
It was in January when California state regulators had uncovered a number of unredacted reports from PG&E which identified a number of damaged pieces of utility equipment at the original site of the fires in Nuns, Patrick, Atlas, and Tubbs.
The lead to CAL FIRE releasing a number of findings which illustrated how 16 of the fires in the region were caused by trees and branches falling onto PG&E power lines in violation of state law. These uncounted safety measures ignored by PG&E also resulted in their power lines and poles falling to the ground and separating from their conductors.
Even further damage was caused when PG&E tried to re-energize the power lines while they were lying on the ground. This caused the lines to spark lying vegetation and continue the destructive blaze.
This is not the first time PG&E has been caught being negligent in ignoring safety violations which led to devastating amounts of damage and fire from explosions. There are documented incidents in 1994, 2003, 2008, 2011, 2014 and specifically 2015 in Butte, which proved the most costly — totaling in $98 million in fines and damages.
Reviewing the PG&E Lawsuit Causes of Action: Can I Sue For Damages?
Negligence (Click to Read More)
PG&E ignored a number of safety regulations and failed to properly maintain and care for their equipment. This is in addition to trying to restart their power lines after they had been downed on vulnerable vegetation.
Inverse Condemnation (Click to Read More)
PG&E caused the destruction to thousands of Californian’s personal property and did not even offer some kind of financial relief.
Public Nuisance (Click to Read More)
PG&E operated their business in a fashion which totally ignored public safety and the health of Californians in the region.
Private Nuisance (Click to Read More)
As a resident residing in a PG&E territory, you have the right to live your life without the threat of a private company negligently destroying your life.
Premises Liability (Click to Read More)
PG&E’s failure to maintain their equipment and materials created a risk on the premises where PG&E equipment resided.
Trespassing (Click to Read More)
The fires caused by PG&E’s negligence trespassed onto the lands of their victims which led to unauthorized damages.
Public Utilities Code Section 2106 (Click to Read More)
PG&E violated this code by not properly maintaining their equipment design and electrical infrastructure.
Health and Safety Code section 13007 (Click to Read More)
When PG&E allowed fires to burn wildly after their equipment negligently caused it and destroy the property of hard-working Californians, they violated this code.
Emotional Distress (Click to Read More)
Any Californian who suffered anxiety, trauma or any other stressor as the result of losing personal property, experienced personal injury or losing a loved one.
Here to Help Wildfire Victims
We are here to help. Whether you own a rental property, own a business or live residentially in the areas affected by the PG&E fires, you are potentially owed financial compensation for your damages.
Litigation is currently ongoing and Attorney Ryan Sargent is more than qualified to represent you in court for your damages. Call him today for a free consultation on your injuries and losses as a result of the fires caused by PG&E.
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