Pacific Gas & Electric equipment may have been involved in the start of the Dixie Fire burning in Sierra Nevada. In a report to the California Public Utilities Commission, the utility company said that a repair man responding to a circuit outage on July 13 spotted blown fuses in a conductor atop a pole, a tree leaning into the conductor and fire at the base of the tree.
In an interview with KTVU, Partner Patrick McNicholas explained that this is potential evidence of PG&E’s liability to victims and its own stockholders. “It’s encouraging at this point that PG&E is stepping up and seems to be taking affirmative action,” said McNicholas. “It’s important for PG&E legally because if they don’t [take accountability] they can expose themselves from shareholders and stockholders for not reporting material facts.”
PG&E equipment has repeatedly been linked to major wildfires, including a 2018 fire that ravaged the town of Paradise and killed 85 people. The ominous fact is that climate change has made the PG&E territory far more fire prone than in the past decades. Compounding that growing problem, PG&E is behind in making their entire system safer. “To get done what they need to get done for purposes of public safety, it’s going to take years and years,” added McNicholas. “They have been behind probably about 40 years.”
McNicholas and his team have been fighting for the rights of Californians whose lives have been devastated by wildfires caused by negligence, including a $13.5 billion settlement against PG&E to compensate victims of wildfires caused by the utility company’s equipment between 2015-2018, including the Butte Fire in 2015, the Ghost Ship Fire in 2016 in Oakland, the Wine Country/North Bay Fires in 2017 and the Camp/Paradise Fire in 2018.
Watch the full interview here