PG&E Facing Lawsuits After Wildfires

PG&ECan PG&E be held liable for California’s fires raging for months, destroying millions of acres of land, hundreds of homes, and costing billions of dollars? The October 8 fires that devastated wine country and neighborhoods across Northern California also took over 40 lives. The unparalleled destruction has left many to wonder who is responsible for these fires? Who will foot the bill to rebuild? If negligence by PG&E was an issue impacting the disaster, can PG&E be held liable?

Lawsuits Blame PG&E

Dozens of suits have been filed by a wide swath of victims, from the former mayor of San Francisco to the owner of a Napa Valley winery that is in ruins. They claim that the explosions and flames were a result of Pacific Gas & Electric’s negligence in maintaining power lines, that vegetation was allowed to grow close to those lines becoming easy kindling for fires. Santa Ana winds blew power poles to the ground and sparks flew. Instead of putting money into maintenance projects to keep the mountainsides communities safe, the power company is charged with filling the pockets of corporate bigwigs,

What evidence supports the plaintiff’s claims? PG&E has been fined before for failing to properly maintain equipment and lines  As recently as 2015, the company was forced to fork out $8.3 million to the state after the Butte Fire. On the night of October 8, when the deadly fire broke out, state regulators report that there were 20 safety incidents across eight counties, four of which occurred in Sonoma County.

PG&E and The Atlas Fire

Prior to the 2017 blaze in Northern California, high wind warnings were given in the area.  Nonetheless, the lawsuits contend that the wind gusts were far below levels necessary to down power poles, if those poles were properly constructed and maintained.

Long-term Problems at PG&E

Safety advocates challenge that the proactive identification of failing equipment is simply not a priority at PG&E. That means that equipment may be in place that should have been upgraded.  In addition, the company lags behind other modern utilities in burying power lines below ground level. Some say that the fines levied against PG&E, hefty though they may be, have not impacted the company enough to change policies or rethink the urgency of addressing safety concerns.

What does PG&E Have to Say?

What has been PG&E’s response to claims that they do not take care of their telephone poles?  With over four million poles, the company admits that it is vastly under-staffed to conduct inspections. As for blame for the recent blaze, the company claims mother nature is unpredictable and not always kind. An official reason for the fire has not yet been determined, but PG&E says it is complying with all requests for information and is fully cooperating with the investigation.

Innocent Victims

Companies such as PG&E are expected to provide safe, reliable equipment in California. If you or loved ones suffered considerable losses due to the recent blazes across Northern California, the experienced legal team at Beck Law P.C., can help. Contact us today for a confidential consultation.

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