Destructive wildfires are becoming all too common in California, affecting residents throughout the state. These fires destroy homes, businesses and the environment, leaving nothing but destruction in their wake. They even claim lives. What makes these fires even more tragic is the fact that they are often caused by human negligence rather than natural forces.
The Northern California wildfire of 2020
Many Californians may remember the Northern California wildfire of 2020. The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection reported that this fire burned over 4 million acres. It was a record-setting fire in terms of acres burned.
The Zogg fire, which started at the end of September 2020, blazed through the Redding area leading to the deaths of four people, the loss of approximately 200 homes and the blackening of approximately 87 square miles of land. Three of those who died were trying to escape the fire and were discovered dead in their automobiles. The fourth victim passed away at the hospital due to injuries suffered in the fire. Now, Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) is being held responsible for the blaze and is facing criminal charges for its neglect that contributed to the devastating fire.
PG&E faces criminal charges
PG&E is facing 31 criminal charges, 11 of which are felony crimes due to its neglect that led to the Northern California wildfire of 2020. The Shasta County District Attorney reports that PG&E was “reckless and criminally negligent.” The District Attorney continued to say that four of those criminal charges were for manslaughter; one charge for each person killed in the Zogg Fire.
State fire investigators determined that the fire was caused by a pine tree that fell onto a PG&E transmission line two years ago, and that PG&E did not remove the tree even though it knew the tree was there and had been marked for removal. PG&E states that the tree was cleared to stay where it was.
Since corporations cannot go to prison, if convicted, PG&E will face significant fines, fees and court ordered corrective measures. PG&E denies having committed any crimes, although it does state that the fire was a tragedy in which four lives were lost.
Civil claims can also be filed after wildfires
It is important that those who suffered damages in a wildfire are be able to pursue a lawsuit against the company responsible for the blaze. This way, recovery from a California wildfire can be possible.