SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — A group of Bay Area lawyers filed a lawsuit Tuesday in San Francisco Superior Court against PG&E on behalf of several victims of the deadly Camp Fire in Butte County which has killed 48 people.
The lawsuit, filed by a group of attorneys collectively known as Corey Danko Gibbs, alleges that PG&E was negligent in failing to maintain its infrastructure and properly inspect and manage its power lines.
The lawsuit is seeking an unspecified amount to cover a variety of losses, including lost homes, properties and personal belongings, as well as evacuation and temporary housing costs, emotional trauma and loss of income.
The Camp Fire – the state’s deadliest wildfire ever – began last Thursday near the town of Chico and has already burned 130,000 acres in the area, consuming several communities and destroying a total of 7,600 single-family homes, according to Cal Fire officials. While the fire is 35 percent contained, a cause has not been determined.
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The suit alleges the blaze broke out when a high voltage transmission line failed and ignited vegetation.
Plaintiff’s attorney Mike Danko said although a cause hasn’t been determined, “this time we have pretty good evidence” that PG&E is responsible.
“It’s quite clear that this fire was caused by a PG&E transmission line and that PG&E is responsible,” said Amanda Riddle, an attorney with the group.
“PG&E at this point has started fires, started explosions in the last ten years and killed numerous people, and it has to stop,” she continued.
In a statement released Tuesday evening, PG&E said, “The safety of our customers and the communities we serve is our highest priority. We are aware of lawsuits regarding the Camp Fire. Right now, our primary focus is on the communities and supporting first responders as they work to contain the fire and getting our crews positioned and ready to respond when we get access, so that we can safely restore gas and electricity to our customers.”
PG&E currently has crews on the scene responding to the Camp Fire, consisting of about 800 total workers.
Crews are clearing downed poles and wires from roadways and are assessing the fire damage to electric and natural gas infrastructure, so that they can determine the impact that surrounding areas are undergoing.
PG&E said that 25,000 customers are currently without power due to fire impacts.
“There are no words to describe the unspeakable tragedy and loss of life. Right now, our focus is on supporting the heroic first responders and making sure we’re assisting our customers and the communities we serve. Over the coming days and weeks, we will continue mobilizing our workforce to help these communities recover and rebuild,” said PG&E Corporation CEO and President Geisha Williams.
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