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PG&E charged in California wildfire last year that killed 4

California Wildfire Utility Charged
Posted at 11:02 AM, Sep 24, 2021
and last updated 2021-09-24 15:34:04-04

REDDING, Calif. (AP)  — Pacific Gas & Electric has been charged with manslaughter and other crimes in a Northern California wildfire last year that killed four people and destroyed hundreds of homes.

Investigators determined that aging equipment belonging to the nation’s largest utility sparked the Zogg Fire last September near the city of Redding. Prosecutors on Friday announced the 31 charges, including 11 felonies.

It's the latest action against the utility, which pleaded guilty last year to 84 counts of involuntary manslaughter over a 2018 blaze in the town of Paradise that was ignited by its long-neglected electrical grid. It was the deadliest U.S. wildfire in a century.

PG&E in a statement disputed the charges in the Zogg Fire.

“We are all devastated by the effects of wildfire here in California. My heart aches. I have seen firsthand how devastating it is and have spoken with many of those most harmed. These communities are the hometowns where my coworkers live and work, too," said PG&E CEO Patti Poppe.

"While I am new to this environment, I hope my heart never becomes hardened to the devastation that catastrophic wildfire can cause...

"We’ve accepted CAL FIRE’s determination, reached earlier this year, that a tree contacted our electric line and started the Zogg Fire. We accept that conclusion. But we did not commit a crime...

"We’re putting everything we’ve got into preventing wildfires and reducing the risk. Though it may feel satisfying for the company of PG&E to be charged with a crime, what I know is the company of PG&E is people, 40,000 people who get up every day to make it safe and to end catastrophic wildfire and tragedies like this.

"Let’s be clear, my coworkers are not criminals. We welcome our day in court so people can learn just that."

ASSEMBLE AN EMERGENCY SUPPLY KIT

Put together your emergency supply kit long before a wildfire or other disaster occurs and keep it easily accessible so you can take it with you when you have to evacuate.

Emergency Supply Kit Checklist:

  • Face masks or coverings
  • Three-day supply of non-perishable food and three gallons of water per person
  • Map marked with at least two evacuation routes
  • Prescriptions or special medications
  • Change of clothing
  • Extra eyeglasses or contact lenses
  • An extra set of car keys, credit cards, cash or traveler’s checks
  • First aid kit
  • Flashlight
  • Battery-powered radio and extra batteries
  • Sanitation supplies
  • Copies of important documents (birth certificates, passports, etc.)
  • Don’t forget pet food and water!

Items to take if time allows:

  • Easily carried valuables
  • Family photos and other irreplaceable items
  • Personal computer information on hard drives and disks
  • Chargers for cell phones, laptops, etc.

Always keep a sturdy pair of shoes and a flashlight near your bed and handy in case of a sudden evacuation at night.