Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) recently pleaded guilty to the California Camp Fire disaster that occurred in 2018. The fire devastated the town of Paradise, causing 84 deaths and destroying almost 19,000 buildings—creating immense public support for holding PG&E accountable.
A year-long investigation by Butte County District Attorney Michael Ramsey concluded that outdated power lines sparked the fire. The grand jury report affirms this, showing that the utility company repeatedly ignored warnings about faulty lines, lack of maintenance, and an overall failure to follow state regulations.
“I’ve heard the pain and anguish of many of the victims as I’ve visited Paradise. As they’ve described the loss they’ve continued to endure and the wounds that can never really heal,” said PG&E CEO Bill Johnson. “No words from me can ever reduce the magnitude of that devastation or do anything to repair the damage. But I sincerely hope that the actions we’re taking today will help bring some measure of peace.”
The company will be fined the maximum amount prosecutors could ask for under the law: $3.5 million. They’ll also pay a $25.5 billion settlement to compensate the families of the fire’s victims and Butte County agencies.
PG&E has been a trainwreck of budgetary disasters over the past few years, making this neglectful fire one of many issues with the energy company. Thankfully, they’re being held accountable for their actions, and Californians can only hope that a more responsible service will take its place.