REDDING, Calif. (AP) – Pacific Gas & Electric was charged last year with manslaughter and other crimes in a forest fire in northern California that killed four people and destroyed hundreds of homes.
Investigators found that aging equipment from the country’s largest energy supplier lit the Zogg fire near the city of Redding last September.
Shasta County’s District Attorney Stephanie Bridgett announced the 31 charges, including 11 crimes, on Friday. She said in July that her office had determined that PG&E was “criminally liable” for the fire.
It is the most recent lawsuit against the utility, which pleaded guilty to 84 negligent homicide cases over the past year over a 2018 fire in the town of Paradise that was ignited by its long-neglected power grid. It was the deadliest forest fire in the United States in a century.
Company officials have acknowledged that PG&E has historically failed to live up to expectations, but changes in leadership and elsewhere ensure that PG&E is on the right track and will do better. They have listed a wide range of improvements, including using more advanced technology to prevent forest fires from starting and identify them more quickly.
Driven by strong winds, the Zogg Fire raged through the rugged Sierra Nevada and communities, killing four and burning about 200 houses.