The Shasta County District Attorney’s Office has filed a total of 31 criminal charges against PG&E. The 2020 Zogg Fire killed four people.
There are felony charges for sparking the 2020 Zogg Fire through criminal negligence and four counts of involuntary manslaughter.
The charges also include enhancements for injury to a firefighter who was paralyzed from the chest down after being struck by a falling tree in the firefight.
The fire killed three people who tried to run for their lives, including eight-year-old Feyla McLeod and her mother Alaina Rowe McLeod. Their bodies were found burned beyond recognition in a pickup truck that ran off the road into the burning forest.
California resident, Karin King, was found burned to death on the roadside next to her car.
A fourth victim, Kenneth Vossen, died at the UC Davis burn center after succumbing to wounds from the fire. He had second and third-degree burns over 90 percent of his body and was found lying in a pond on his property where he’d apparently attempted to douse the flames on his body
A federal judge found PG&E contractors had marked the tree (which started the fire) as a hazard in 2018, but that the company violated state safety rules by failing to follow up and cut the tree down.
Political Protection for PG&E
A 2019 bill (AB 1054) passed by California Governor Gavin Newsom created a safety certificate. Utilities given a safety certificate are automatically deemed to be reasonable. Before the bill they had to prove their actions were reasonable. If the bill had been in force in 2017, 2018 and 2019 then it would have capped PG&E to $4 billion in losses instead of $29 billion.
The safety certificate gives PG&E the ability to tap into a $21 billion-dollar state wildfire fund, paid for by customers, to help pay damages to fire victims– and perhaps most importantly, it caps the amount of fire damage that PG&E shareholders would be on the hook for paying back to the fund. AB 1054 shifted the burden of proof. Before utilities had to prove they acted responsibly. Now victims parties looking to recover costs need to show the power companies acted negligently.
Many PG&E homicides
PG&E pleaded guilty in June 2020 to 84 felony counts of involuntary manslaughter in Butte County for killing people in the 2018 Camp Fire, the deadliest wildfire in California history.
After the trial, PG&E’s leaders promised that this wouldn’t happen again.
The Zogg Fire broke out three months after PG&E entered those guilty pleas in a Butte County courtroom, where prosecutors warned the company that murder charges could be filed if it caused a deadly fire again.
PG&E has been the cause of major wildfires every year from 2017-2021. They are the lone suspect in causing the massive Dixie Fire, which is still burning.
The Dixie Fire has reached nearly 1 million acres in size after destroying the town of Greenville, Calif., and roughly half of Lassen Volcanic National Park.
With charges pending in both Sonona and Shasta County, the PG&E corporation is already a repeat felon and probation violator. PG&E has 91 felony convictions on its record.
PG&E poisoned the town of Hinkley. This was made into the Erin Brokovitch movie which starred Julia Roberts.
PG&E was convicted by a jury of six felonies in the deadly 2010 San Bruno gas explosion.
In 2017, PG&E aged electrical system caused 18 fires that killed 22 people.
In 2018, PG&E caused the fire that destroyed the town of Paradise which killed 84 people.
2019 Kincade fire. PGE charged with 33 crimes.
2020 had the Zogg fire.
2021, has PG&E causing the Dixie fire and other fires.
The power lines are supposed to last 65 years. However, PG&E lines average over 68 years old and has lines over 100 years old. The PG&E has been negligent in maintaining the lines. PG&E did not send employees to climb up and inspect lines until after the disasters.
SOURCES- ABC, WSJ,
Written by Brian Wang, Nextbigfuture.com
Brian Wang is a Futurist Thought Leader and a popular Science blogger with 1 million readers per month. His blog Nextbigfuture.com is ranked #1 Science News Blog. It covers many disruptive technology and trends including Space, Robotics, Artificial Intelligence, Medicine, Anti-aging Biotechnology, and Nanotechnology.
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