California’s Shasta Superior Court Judge Daniel Flynn has dropped all charges against Pacific Gas & Electric in connection with 2020’s Zogg Fire. The fire was started when a tree fell over a PG&E power line. It killed four people — including an 8-year old child — and destroyed 200 homes and businesses.
In a separate deal, PG&E has settled with the Shasta County District Attorney’s office and will pay Shasta County $50 million.
The 2021 investigation determined that the fire was caused by a pine tree that fell onto a PG&E distribution line. Shasta and Tehama counties sued and said PG&E failed to remove the tree when it was marked for removal two years before. That led Shasta County DA, Stephanie Bridgett to charge the company with criminal negligence.
PG&E said at one time the tree was scheduled to be removed but later it was deemed to be okay.
Judge Flynn disagreed with the DA and said prosecutors did not present enough evidence that PG&E engaged in criminal conduct.
Under the separate agreement with Bridgett and Shasta County, PG&E said it will give $45 million to organizations that will help rebuild local communities and assist people doing the rebuilding. A $5 million penalty was assessed and given to the county.
“I am unwilling to gamble with the safety of Shasta County,” Bridgett said. “I have a responsibility to the community and needed to secure what I can for all the citizens to prevent future wildfires, prevent future deaths and devastation, and to be as prepared as our county can be if another one occurs.”
As for PG&E, spokeswoman, Patti Poppe said, “We stand behind our thousands of trained and experienced coworkers and contractors working every day to keep Californians safe. We feel strongly that those good-faith judgments are not criminal.”
Source link: Associated Press — https://bit.ly/3MR3nXr