Last fall, 12 wildfires tore across Northern California. The fires burned over 245,000 acres in Northern California, destroying 8,800 structures along the way and forcing over 100,000 people to evacuate. According to CBS News, a report by the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection says that PG&E (Pacific Gas & Electric Co.) equipment caused several of these fires.
In total, the 12 fires killed 44 people, 15 of those deaths were attributed to two of the fires started by PG&E equipment. The investigation shows that there were violations of state law in regard to the care of the equipment including issues with electric power and distribution lines and the failure of power poles.
Hundreds of homeowners and family members of those killed in the fires are already suing PG&E. Patrick McCallum, co-chair of a coalition of people affected by the fires stated, “PG&E has been trying to duck responsibility for the fires, blaming everything from climate change to local fire departments and the state’s liability laws…[the Cal Fire report] puts the blame where it belongs – squarely on PG&E, confirming it was responsible for many of the fires that devastated so many lives.”
Often, the cause of a wildfire is unknown or difficult to determine. However, when the person, or entity (PG&E in this case), that started the fire is discovered, they can be held civilly liable for the personal injuries or wrongful deaths that resulted from their actions. The basis of these claims would likely be negligence—that the injury, wrongful death, or property damage occurred due to inattention or carelessness on the part of PG&E. This could be for a variety of reasons such as lack of upkeep, not following safety guidelines for downed power poles, or not inspecting equipment.
California, unfortunately, is prone to large fires. In the past few months, Southern California has faced serious fire damage as well. All California residents should be sure that their homeowner’s insurance coverage is up to date and to make sure they are covered in case of fire damage.
If you have been injured, lost a loved one, or suffered property damage because of a fire, reach out to the experienced Southern California attorneys at Walch Law. We have experience in personal injury and wrongful death cases, as well as property damage caused by fires. We can help make sure you get the financial compensation you deserve from those liable for the fire and help make sure your insurance company treats you fairly, so you can recover the fair value of your lost property. Contact us today for your free consultation.