Deadly California wildfires caused by PG&E, class-action lawsuit alleges

By FeaturesFOXBusiness

California wildfires' insurance implications

Insurance Information Institute's Michael Barry on the potential insurance implications of the California wildfires.

The horrific California wildfires that left at least 88 people dead were allegedly caused by the utility company based in the center of the region, according to a scathing new class-action lawsuit, which claims that PG&E could have prevented “catastrophic damage and loss of life” – instead of putting profit over public safety.

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“Even though PG&E knew that its infrastructure was aging, unsafe, and vulnerable to weather and environmental conditions, it failed to fulfill these duties, and failed to take preventative measures in the face of known high-risk weather conditions, such as de-energizing its electrical equipment,” the complaint, filed in San Francisco Superior Court, said.

The Camp Fire in Paradise, California began on Nov. 8 and blazed across the state for 17 days before three straight days of rain helped firefighters extinguish it. Thousands were displaced by the fires, which eviscerated 14,000 properties and 153,000 acres. Eleven people are still missing.

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The 50-page lawsuit, which accuses PG&E of not properly maintaining its infrastructure and failing to abide by vegetation regulations, was filed by attorneys representing several California residents who lost “everything” in the fire, according to USA Today.

When PG&E was named in another lawsuit in November -- which likewise alleged the electric and gas company was to blame for the fires -- it disclosed in an SEC filing that it may not have enough insurance to cover liabilities tied to the fires, as previously reported.

“Unfortunately, time and time again, Defendants have abdicated their duties and exposed the public to unacceptable risk,” the complaint said.

The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection has not said what caused the fires.

This isn’t the first time that PG&E has been under the legal microscope for its role in wildfires: In the past year, it’s been blamed for several destructive wildfires in the state. State officials in June said it caused 12 of about 170 wildfires in Northern California.

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