PG&E Charged With 4 More Homicides, This Time for 2020 Zogg Wildfire

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.

Written by Brian Wang,

20 thoughts on “PG&E Charged With 4 More Homicides, This Time for 2020 Zogg Wildfire”

  1. So a vast increase in power grids? You get power grids on the street outside your door? You find extra power grids in parks in Beverly Hills?

  2. You keep missing my point, which is that the pennies worth of steel is not the cost of doing maintenance.

    What was the cost of the steel than needed to be replaced in your friends engine? Who cares? It doesn't matter because the cost of the engine replacement was $3000 and that involved $58 dollars worth of raw steel.

    Forget the steel, it's not the problem.

  3. I look forward to PG&E getting sued out of existence by the State of CA. Then CA can take over the power grid & all these problems will get fixed. And once they finish that high speed rail line, we can all put flowers in our hair & go to San Francisco. Peace, Love, no more forest fires, no more internal combustion engines, Sweetness & Light.

  4. California power grid is scary. I have been camping several times at San Mateo Campground and was always awestruck at night watching the powerlines that run along Cristianitos Rd arcing regularly at the poles/towers. To be fair, maybe this is normal for powerlines near the coast but it sure does not happen anywhere I have been along the Texas coast.

    Also, what happens to a company that has been convicted of a felony, let alone multiple felonies. Seems like it's no big deal otherwise you'd think they'd take more aggressive action to rectify their problems.

  5. System maintenance is a cost that is payed in the rates. Not performing the maintenance and pocketing the money is a management decision. Bonuses and dividends increase and a life is only $10000.00. No one is in jail, I'm sure they feel bad but maybe a nice vacation abroad will reorient your perspective. Change the laws change behavior, corporations are not responsible for murder. Board members, directors, chief whatever, etc. need to be held as accomplices in murder…

  6. No, we get your point, but consider that, as a regulated utility, it's quite possible they're not actually allowed to spend the money for this maintenance. Not even allowed to have enough money in their budget to spend it.

    Which isn't to say that they spent all the money they could on maintenance, just that the regulators can't be let off the hook, it was actually their job to see to it the utility did the right thing.

  7. I think we have to distinguish here between proximate and ultimate causes. Sure, PG&E did 'cause' the fire in the sense of supplying the ignition source. Are they also responsible for the absurd over-abundance of fuel, too? Nope.

    And, as a regulated utility, are they even being permitted to spend the money necessary to fix the cited problems? I think the answer to that is "no", they aren't; They're put in an untenable position where they have ends they are legally obligated to accomplish, but they are legally denied the means.

    I'm not saying they're doing everything they could, but the state government isn't innocent here.

  8. Then there is the fact buildings in known fire risk areas are not built to resist burning. California has building codes for earthquake prone areas. Why not building codes for high fire risk zones requiring fireproof exteriors, and sprinklers on the roofs?

  9. If everyone understood how inept the land management is, they wouldn't blame PG&E.

    Sparks occur everywhere. Driving a car with a hot exhaust system through a dry grass field can be enough.

    Should we blame the driver, mow the grass, or manage the forests?

    Mowing lawns and blaming power companies reduces the odds of fires getting started. Only land management to reduce fuel loads can reduce the consequences of fires.

  10. Maybe the state government of California should charge itself with negligent homicide for interfering with PGE clearing it's rights of way.

  11. Here’s a similar way to look at it. A good friend of mine growing up, not too mechanically inclined, was ‘lazy’ when it came to performing a simple and cheap oil change. He paid the price. What would have been in 1990s a $18 oil change became a $3000 or so engine replacement, and that was ‘my price’ through my uncle. So staying on top of small repairs prevents larger mishaps from occurring. Ultimately, what I’m getting at is if they couldn’t be bothered with a few pennies of steel in maintenance, as it must have cut into their executive bonuses or shareholder payouts too much.

  12. As I have been pointing out, Earth to Earth power beaming would remove the long distance power conduction lines being planned and allow the money to be used for the more local needs. Start in Texas and Calif, get power from Australia at nite. It would allow excess wind and solar in the sun to supply those in need. To such an extent that the fossil plants can go away, esp after the same power beaming antenna are used in receiving Space Solar. Search Criswell LSP find searchanddiscovery link see ppg 12-13 for example, but add in solar farms with excess on sunny days. Solve the problems of humans on Earth.

  13. Everyone knows about hazard reduction burns. Just telling people about the concept does nothing to change behaviour. You have to work out WHY they are choosing to do what everyone already knows is the wrong approach.

    (Obviously, when I say everyone, I mean everyone who has any knowledge of forest management. I'll forgive the 5 year old children who just think that forest fires are bad for the animals, and they shouldn't allow rain on the weekend.)

  14. Obviously they should maintain their equipment. My point is that the cost of the steel in the hook is a completely inappropriate way to analyse it.

  15. Labor is part of doing business. It was PGE’s private property, or capital equipment if you prefer a more proper business term, which is there to make them money. You’d think they’d take better care of it. Maybe the franchise should be transferred to another operator who’s better committed to taking care of their grid and other equipment.

  16. Lots of power companies have old garbage on their systems. It is pretty normal to spark small local fires.

    The PG&E difference is that these common small fires turn into wildfires because northern California has an insane excess of dry fuel from decades of choosing to mismanage the forests.

    "Academics believe that between 4.4 million and 11.8 million acres burned each year in prehistoric California. Between 1982 and 1998, California’s agency land managers burned, on average, about 30,000 acres a year. Between 1999 and 2017, that number dropped to an annual 13,000 acres. "

  17. I've got nothing to say about Californian electrical infrastructure, but the cost of a hook is almost certainly a tiny fraction of the cost of the work required to identify all the parts that are due for replacement, transport all the hooks, tools, equipment and men out to the multitude of remote locations, and perform the replacement.

    The Mona Lisa contains maybe $20 worth of paint.

  18. A 99-year old corroded C-hook was responsible for the Paradise fire. It’s a couple of dollars in steel, you’d think they’d have the budget to replace them at least twice a century.

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