California electric operator PG&E prosecuted for homicides after wildfire

Once again, the responsibility of California electricity supplier Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) in the California fires is exposed. While its installations caused the “Zogg Fire” which killed four people in 2020, the supplier will be criminally prosecuted for homicides, announced Friday, September 24, the prosecutor of the county devastated by the disaster.

“We have sufficient evidence to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the company PG & E is criminally responsible for the fire. Zogg Fire as well as the deaths and destruction it caused ”Shasta County District Attorney Stephanie Bridgett said at a press conference.

She intends to prosecute PG&E on a total of thirty-one counts, including homicides in connection with the deaths of four people in the blaze, including an eight-year-old child.

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PG&E rejects criminal liability

The “Zogg Fire” broke out on September 27, 2020 in a wooded area in northern California. An investigation by firefighters established that the incident had been triggered by a tree branch having come into contact with a power line operated by PG & E.

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According to Shasta’s prosecutor, the firm had neglected for years to prune in this place, a behavior “Negligent and criminal” according to her.

In a statement reacting to the accusations, the company acknowledged the findings of the firefighters’ investigation and admitted responsibility for starting the fire, but denied any criminal liability in this case. “We did not commit any crime”, protested PG & E general manager Patti Poppe.

The company has already dealt with numerous compensation claims for victims of the “Zogg Fire” and “Still working to find solutions for the remaining requests”, she added.

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The San Francisco-based company has for years been accused of putting profits and its shareholders ahead of public safety, with outdated facilities and repeated failures to maintain its overhead power lines. A line of PG & E had notably started in 2018 the deadliest fire in recent California history, “Camp Fire”: 86 dead and 18,000 buildings destroyed around the small town of Paradise. This tragedy resulted in the bankruptcy of the group, forced to pay tens of millions of dollars in damages. He also pleaded guilty to 84 manslaughter.

The World with AFP

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