PG&E could face a host of charges, including murder, if the utility is found to have caused recent deadly wildfires in California, according to a brief filed in federal court by California General Xavier Becerra. [CNN]
Becerra filed an amicus brief in response to a request by United States District Court Judge William Alsup to disclose what charges PG&E could face if found responsible for a series of recent fires in California, the worst of which was the Northern California Camp Fire. While it is currently unclear what caused the Camp Fire, there is concern PG&E started the blaze.
PG&E could face charges ranging from misdemeanors related to clearing vegetation around power lines to felonies, including homicide offenses such as implied-malice murder and involuntary manslaughter. All of the charges are dependent upon the findings of ongoing investigations into the recent fires, and the attorney general’s office stated it has not reached a determination whether or not PG&E bears responsibility.
PG&E has disclosed it experienced two power outages around the location and time the Camp Fire began. In one disclosure, the utility stated it experienced an outage on a transmission line near Pulga, a town in Butte County located close to the ignition point of the Camp Fire. In a second disclosure, PG&E stated it had an outage on a power line near the Concow area in Butte County at approximately 12 minutes after the Camp Fire began.
The Camp Fire killed 86 people and destroyed approximately 19,000 buildings, making it the deadliest and most destructive blaze in state history.