Camp Fire Wildfire Litigation
If This Is How PG&E Takes Care of You
Don't Let Them Do It Again
PG&E’s “fair compensation” is way short of what is needed to recover from catastrophic property and personal loses. Many of the Camp Fire families know this and have hired Skikos Attorneys at Law to represent them. If you suffered catastrophic losses in this latest PG&E wildfire, let California’s leading wildfire litigators, Skikos and the nationally-recognized environmental law firm of Janet, Janet & Suggs get you REAL compensation to recover your losses.
What The PG&E Bankruptcy Means to Victims
PG&E has more than $70 billion in assets plus a guaranteed income stream of $1 billion a year. PG&E has the assets and means to pay its victims. Their history is to file for bankruptcy as a way to force the state legislature into bailing them out. It is also a ploy to discourage people from filing lawsuits. Our attorneys are not settling for these strategies and neither should the victims of the Camp Fire devastation.
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Your Case Against PG&E Is Strong
PG&E’s electrical equipment has been implicated in the Camp Fire, and mounting evidence suggests the utility company may be responsible for sparking the blaze. The developing Camp Fire lawsuit is based on these allegations:
- On Tuesday November 6th, PG&E alerted customers that it may schedule a Public Safety Power Shutoff for November 8th across various Northern California counties, including Butte County.
- Planned shutoffs are intended to protect communities from known fire conditions such as strong winds, low humidity, and abundant dry vegetation.
- Over the next two days, PG&E tweeted 17 different warnings about a potential power shutoff scheduled for the morning of November 8th amid forecasts of sustained high winds and gusts reaching 40 to 50 mph creating an extreme fire danger.
- November 8th 6:15am: PG&E experienced an outage on its Caribou-Palermo 115-kilovolt transmission line located at Pulga Road across the Feather River from the Poe Dam.
- November 8th 6:33am: Cal Fire reported the start of the Camp Fire in the same area as the Caribou-Palermo outage.
- November 8th 6:43am: Firefighters located the origin point and reported to dispatch, “It is on the west side of the river underneath the transmission lines.”
- Additional trucks responding to the Poe Dam area acknowledged downed power lines as they arrived on scene.
- November 8th 6:45am: PG&E experienced a second outage on the Big Bend 12-kilovolt distribution line located east of the Concow reservoir near Rim Road.
- November 8th 7:04am: Firefighters dispatched to the Rim Road location reported a possible second origin point for the Camp Fire at or near PG&E’s Big Bend distribution line.
- PG&E reported to state regulators at the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) that aerial observation in the afternoon on November 8th showed damage to a high-rise transmission tower on the Caribou-Palermo line one mile northeast of Pulga on the west side of the Feather River, i.e., at the initial suspected origin point of the Camp Fire.
- November 8th 3:14pm: PG&E tweeted that it would not proceed with plans to shut off power because “weather conditions did not warrant this safety measure.”
- From its origin point in the mountains near Pulga, the fire rapidly spread west and caused devastation to the towns of Paradise, Concow, Magalia, and surrounding areas.
- Upon 100% containment of the Camp Fire on November 25th, Cal Fire reported 153,336 acres burned; destruction of 13,972 residences, 528 commercial structures, and 4,293 other buildings; 3 firefighter injuries; and 85 civilian deaths. Additional fatalities have been identified and reported since that time.
- Monetary damages from the Camp Fire are expected to exceed $15 billion.
- This disaster follows a long history of PG&E safety violations that have caused devastating fires and explosions. Prior events include the 1994 Trauner Fire (739 counts of criminal negligence and $24 million in penalties); the 2003 Mission District Substation fire; the 2008 Rancho Cordova explosion ($38 million in CPUC fines); the 2010 San Bruno explosion (6 felony charges and $1.6 billion in penalties); the 2011 Cupertino explosion; the 2014 Carmel explosion ($36 million in total fines); the 2015 Butte Fire in Calaveras County ($98.3 million in fines and costs); and 2017 North Bay Fires (44 fatalities and over 245,000 acres burned).
- Cal Fire continues to investigate the cause of the Camp Fire, and could refer the matter to the district attorney for potential criminal prosecution against PG&E.
- At the same time, the CPUC has launched a regulatory investigation into PG&E to assess the company’s compliance with fire safety regulations, including maintenance of its infrastructure, vegetation management, and emergency preparedness and response.
- Individual civil lawsuits are also under review for fire victims in Paradise, Magalia, Concow, and other affected areas.
Why is PG&E Being Sued? 24 Years of Safety Violations
Evidence shows catastrophic fires have been caused by PG&E’s failure to properly maintain its electrical infrastructure, failure to clear trees and vegetation as required under state law, and failure to take protective measures in light of known weather conditions. Lawsuits against PG&E include the following allegations:
- An independent report issued to the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) in May 2013 found that PG&E’s aging infrastructure presented “significant safety issues,” particularly in poor weather conditions.
- PG&E had over 10 years of historical data showing that seasonal winds regularly occur in the region, posing a significant risk to electrical equipment.
- CAL FIRE records show electrical equipment was responsible for approximately 135 fires in Sonoma and Napa Counties between 2011 and 2015.
- In May 2016, government regulators put PG&E on further notice that specific areas of the North Bay faced an increases risk of power line fires because of strong winds, abundant dry vegetation, and other environmental conditions.
- Recent audits of PG&E’s Sonoma Division alone revealed over 3,500 unattended repair and maintenance requests.
- PG&E has a documented practice of diverting substantial funds away from tree-trimming and other critical maintenance programs, despite reaching nearly $1.4 billion in profits per year.
- PG&E has maintained an outdated and dangerous practice of using reclosers to automatically restart power after service interruptions. Reclosers send electrical pulses through the system’s power lines whenever there’s an interruption. If these lines are downed or in contact with trees and vegetation, these pulses create a significant risk of starting fires. As the San Francisco Chronicle recently reported, other utility companies such as San Diego Gas & Electric Company and Southern California Edison have ceased this dangerous practice entirely during the fire season.
- PG&E failed to turn off power in preparation for forecasted high winds, low humidity, and dry conditions that could create a substantial regional fire risk, and further failed to turn off power to minimize damage once the disaster began.
As a result, beginning in the early evening on October 8, 2017, emergency responders received dozens of calls reporting electrical outages, transformer explosions, sparking power lines, and tree fires in close proximity to PG&E utility equipment. PG&E reported electrical outages near the origins of the Tubbs fire as early as 8:51pm on October 8, 2017. The result? Over 245,000 acres burned, nearly 9,000 homes, businesses, and other structures destroyed, and 44 fire-related deaths.
- On January 3, 2018, California state regulators revealed unredacted PG&E fire incident reports identifying damaged utility equipment at the origin sites of the Nuns, Atlas, Partrick, and Tubbs fires.
- In May and June 2018, CAL FIRE released findings that 16 of the North Bay fires were caused by trees or branches falling onto PG&E power lines in violation of state law, the failure of PG&E-owned power poles resulting in lines and equipment coming into contact with the ground, power line conductors separating from connectors and falling to the ground, and PG&E’s attempt to reenergize downed power lines while the lines were in contact with vegetation.
These findings follow a long history of PG&E safety violations that have caused devastating fire damage and explosions. Prior events include the 1994 Trauner fire (739 counts of criminal negligence and $24 million in penalties); the 2003 Mission District Substation fire; the 2008 Rancho Cordova explosion ($38 million in CPUC fines); the 2010 San Bruno explosion (6 felony charges and $1.6 billion in penalties); the 2011 Cupertino explosion; the 2014 Carmel explosion ($36 million in total fines); and the 2015 Butte/Calaveras County fire ($98.3 million in fines and costs).
Already representing many families harmed by the PG&E-caused Camp Fire, Skikos attorneys have over 25 years’ experience in mass tort litigation and currently serve as court-appointed leadership counsel in the North Bay Fire Litigation (JCCP 4955). From General Electric to Johnson & Johnson, we lead the state in complex mass tort cases. And as lawyers born and raised in Sonoma County, we are committed to seeing our community recover and rebuild after the recent North Bay fires.
Janet, Janet & Suggs is a national law firm, which includes an Environmental Division that advocates for individuals, communities, and governments affected by pollution and hazards caused by corporate mismanagement. We often enter into strategic relationships with other highly respected and accomplished firms such as the Skikos firm in order to serve our clients most effectively. Most recently, we served as one of two law firms that served as special counsel for New Jersey in a natural resource damages lawsuit against Exxon. The result was a record-breaking $225,000,000 settlement that benefitted residents of and visitors to the State. Our lawyers have received numerous awards for their competence, and welcome the opportunity to help your family at a time when you need it most.