Pacific Gas and Electric has sen its proverbial day in court following the most destructive fire in California’s history, and it includes 84 counts of manslaughter.
The power company reached a plea deal on Monday related to the 2018 Camp Fire in Paradise, California, and it included 84 counts of manslaughter related to the deadliest fire in the state’s history. The deal includes $4 billion in fines and the payment of water access for Paradise residents.
“On November 8, 2018, the Camp Fire destroyed the towns of Paradise and Concow, impacted Magalia and other parts of Butte County and took the lives of more than 80 people,” said PG&E Corporation CEO and President Bill Johnson in a statement. “Thousands lost their homes and businesses. Many others were forced to evacuate and leave their lives behind. Our equipment started the fire. Those are the facts, and with this plea agreement we accept responsibility for our role in the fire.”
The Camp Fire ravaged Butte County in 2018 as it burned over 150,000 acres, destroyed 19,000 structures and killed 84 people. While the community affected by the fire continues to struggle with the significant losses the flames brought to the area, the plea deal may bring some semblance of closure and financial compensation to the victims.
PG&E has remained a target for critics in Northern California who don’t believe the company took enough precaution to keep their equipment from starting fires, especially in the drought conditions that brought the devastating fire season of 2018. Since then, the power company has enacted multiple power shutdowns throughout the state to limit the fire risk, angering residents even further.
“We cannot change the devastation or ever forget the loss of life that occurred,” said Johnson. “All of us at PG&E deeply regret this tragedy and the company’s part in it. We have previously acknowledged our role in the Camp Fire. Since the fire, we have worked side-by-side with Butte County residents and public officials to help the Paradise region recover and rebuild. That work continues today, and we are doing everything we can to make things right. We cannot replace all that the fire destroyed, but our hope is that this plea agreement, along with our rebuilding efforts, will help the community move forward from this tragic incident. “