CAL Fire released a report stating that Pacific Gas and Electric Co. was to blame for causing three fires in Northern California last Fall. The fires were caused when trees came in contact with PG&E’s electric wires, and CAL Fire is claiming the company did an insufficient job of clearing the trees around the wires.
Last Fall, four fires in Butte and Nevada Counties that burned 14 square miles and incinerated 134 buildings were caused by trees coming in contact with power lines. Of those four fires, three were deemed caused by the negligence of PG&E.
The La Porte fire in Butte County covered 13 square miles and destroyed 74 structures. The Honey Fire covered 150 acres in Butte County. In Nevada County, two fires burned across a mile and a half, destroying 60 structures.
PG&E responded to Cal Fire’s report in a statement saying, “We look forward to the opportunity to carefully review the Cal Fire reports to understand the agency’s perspectives. Based on the information we have so far, we believe our overall programs met our state’s high standards.”
This report was released amidst a legislative battle in California over who should pay for wildfires. Although if PG&E is deemed legally responsible by lawmakers for the damage of recent wildfires, including devastating Napa Fires last fall, PG&E customers could see an increase in their electric bills.
If the fire payments are left with the insurance companies, California residents could see raising premiums on homeowners and declining coverage in some neighborhoods.
What do you think? Who should foot the bill in these wildfires?