PG&E's $105M fund for California wildfire survivors gets court approval

By IndustriesFOXBusiness

A judge on Wednesday gave Pacific Gas & Electric Corp. (PG&E) the okay to launch a $105 million wildfire assistance program. This November 2018 aerial file photo shows the remains of residences leveled by the Camp wildfire in Paradise, Calif.

A judge on Wednesday gave Pacific Gas & Electric Corp. (PG&E) the okay to launch a $105 million wildfire assistance program.

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The fund, designed to offer aid for those whose property was destroyed amid fires over the last few years, was authorized by U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Dennis Montali, according to The Associated Press. He is also presiding over the bankruptcy case for the company, which filed for protection in January.

Montali described the program as an “appropriate remedy” after lawyers representing wildfire victims reportedly suggested that the utility company could afford to put up as much as $250 million toward the program. The judge also indicated he wasn’t legally able to impose a larger amount.

Montali said he wanted to see the fund up and running as quickly as possible and wanted both sides to name an independent third party to administer the program in five days.

The fund is intended to help victims who are uninsured, still need help with housing costs or have other urgent needs. Victims "most in need, including those who are currently without adequate shelter," would be prioritized, the utility said.

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The Camp Fire that erupted in California last fall and ultimately became “the deadliest and most destructive” blaze in the state’s history was triggered by electrical transmission lines owned by PG&E, officials said last week.

“After a very meticulous and thorough investigation, CAL FIRE has determined that the Camp Fire was caused by electrical transmission lines owned and operated by Pacific Gas and Electricity (PG&E) located in the Pulga area,” Cal Fire said in a news release.

The blaze killed 85 civilians and injured numerous firefighters, officials said.

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The company’s equipment is also reportedly suspected in the cause of October 2017 fires in Napa and Sonoma counties.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.