Is PG&E at Fault?
Some people point out that weather conditions were a huge factor in the spread of the fires. However, weather alone does not explain the origin of the fires. 90% of all wildfires are caused by humans – whether arson, old cigarettes, or power lines.
Historically, a number of devastating wildfires have been found to originate from poorly maintained power lines. That is probably why Morgan Stanley and others project a 75% probability (guess) that PG&E will ultimately be found at fault for the North Bay fires.
PG&E, as a regulated utility, is charged with the responsibility for maintaining its poles, distribution lines, transformers, and recloser devices in a manner specified by the CPUC General Order 95. PG&E’s poles must be engineered and maintained in a way that allows them to carry electricity safely. They are engineered to withstand winds of 56 miles per hour (in light loading zones), multiplied by a safety factor that means they should actually withstand much higher winds. PG&E is responsible for trimming back vegetation around its lines, and looking out for dead or compromised trees that might fall on its lines. In short, power lines are dangerous and our state’s regulations require PG&E to do regular maintenance and inspections to make sure its poles and lines can operate safely even when Mother Nature acts up.
We have spearheaded past litigation against PG&E for its failures to properly maintain its equipment, and we’ve seen instances where money was siphoned away from maintenance into profits, or where PG&E allowed maintenance to fall through the cracks.
In the end, lawsuits exist to create accountability. Those responsible for causing the fires should compensate those harmed. Our firm has a long history representing clients in cases for fire-related financial loss, physical injury, and wrongful death against PG&E
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