Pacific Gas and Electric Co. (PG&E) on Tuesday pleaded guilty to 84 counts of involuntary manslaughter and one count of starting a fire for its role in the 2018 Camp Fire that destroyed the town of Paradise, CA.
The San Francisco-based operator in March had agreed to plead guilty in Butte County Superior Court for the 84 victims in the state’s worst-ever wildfire. The fire burned 153,336 acres and destroyed 18,804 structures. As part of the settlement, PG&E also agreed to pay $4 million in penalties.
CEO Bill Johnson said the combination utility’s plea was made with “sadness and regret,” reiterating the need for speedy compensation to the victims’ families. PG&E accepted responsibility for the fire, he said, acknowledging it had taken “so many lives and changed these communities forever.”
Johnson said he hoped PG&E’s actions now and in the future “will help bring a measure of peace. The utility will continue to work side-by-side with Butte County residents and public officials to help recover and rebuild the Paradise region.”
PG&E’s Chapter 11 bankruptcy proceeding is drawing to a close, with approval by the court set for June 30, and management plans to “work hard to get victims compensated,” Johnson said.
Last December, PG&E reached a $13.5 billion settlement with the victims who sustained losses from the Camp Fire, the 2015 Butte Fire and 2017 Northern California wildfires, all of which are linked to or caused by PG&E equipment. Settlements to date total about $25.5 billion.
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