Sacramento, California (Associated Press)-California prosecutors filed 33 criminal charges on Tuesday, accusing the troubled Pacific Gas and Electric Company of inadvertently injuring six firefighters, which occurred in 2019 on their equipment Smoke and ashes from the fire endanger public health.
The country’s largest utility company denies that it has committed any crimes, even if it accepts that its transmission lines have caused a fire.
The Sonoma County District Attorney punished the utility company with five felonies and 28 misdemeanors in the Kincade fire north of San Francisco in October 201
Fire officials said the PG&E transmission line caused a fire that burned 120 square miles (311 square kilometers), destroyed 374 buildings, and caused nearly 100,000 people to flee. Prosecutors said this was the largest evacuation operation in the county’s history, including all towns in Hildessburg, Windsor and Gaitherville.
These allegations and related improvements allege that the company destroyed residential buildings and “willfully ignored” air pollution caused by toxic wildfire smoke and related particulate matter and ashes, thereby endangering public health. They claimed that in numerous related misdemeanor charges, the utility company failed to maintain facilities including power transmission lines.
District Attorney Jill Ravitch said that she and other investigators went to the fire site as soon as possible after the fire broke out, and have been working with state and independent experts since then to determine the cause and responsibility of the fire.
Ravich said the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection reported to her office in July that when the cables on the transmission tower ruptured in strong winds and hit the tower, it caused a fire. She said this caused the molten material to fall into the dry vegetation below and ignite a flame that took 15 days to contain.
She said her office’s investigation included interviews with dozens of witnesses, search warrants and the review of hundreds of thousands of pages of documents. The prosecutor also consulted other law enforcement and regulatory agencies and independent experts.
PG&E said in a statement that it accepted the findings that its transmission line in the Geysers geothermal field northeast of Geyserville caused a fire “in the spirit of working hard to do the right thing for the victims”, although it has not seen reports or evidence. From the state fire investigator.
The company said in a statement: “However, we do not believe that there is any crime here.” “We are always committed to benefiting all affected people and working to further reduce the risk of wildfires on our systems.”
Tuesday’s charge is the latest in a series of similar issues for the utility company, which serves 16 million people in most parts of Northern California.
PG&E’s alleged criminal negligence in the Sonoma County wildfire occurred when the company fell into bankruptcy triggered by a series of deadly hells that were set ablaze by the collapsed equipment of the utility company in 2017 and 2018.
In Butte County, the deadliest fire destroyed the entire Paradise Township. It was the deadliest and most destructive wildfire in California’s recorded history. PG&E pleaded guilty to 84 felony involuntary homicides in June last year.
Although PG&E’s then CEO Bill Johnson appeared in court and pleaded guilty in front of some surviving family members, no one in the company went to jail.Instead, the company paid the highest fine US$4 million.
PG&E emerged from bankruptcy protection shortly after assuming guilty pleas and settlements to make up for the damage caused by its fragile power grid. The settlement includes a $13.5 billion fund for wildfire victims, which recently started allocating some funds to help people rebuild their lives.
State investigators said last month that when tree branches contacted utility power lines last year, it triggered a wildfire in Northern California that killed four people and destroyed more than 200 buildings. In September and October last year, wind-driven Zogg fires burned in rural communities in Shasta and Tehama counties.
The Sonoma County wildfires also caused harassment by a federal judge who oversaw PG&E’s criminal probation for the 2010 natural gas pipeline explosion that blew up a community in San Bruno, a southern suburb of San Francisco.
William Alsup in the US has repeatedly criticized PG&E for its inferior maintenance of its equipment and is considering This may result in utility companies being forced to turn off their power cords in drought and windy conditions, which is more frequent than in recent years.
Associated Press writer Michael Liedtke is from San Francisco.