PG&E to plead guilty to involuntary manslaughter for fatalities in Camp Fire

84 people were killed in the northern California fire in 2018

The Camp Fire, November 8, 2018
The Camp Fire, November 8, 2018 about four hours after it started. NASA (Joshua Stevens) – Landsat 8.

In a rather startling development, Pacific Gas & Electricity is expected to plead guilty to involuntary manslaughter for the 84 people that were killed during the Camp Fire that burned through Paradise, California November 8, 2018. The fire also burned 154,000 acres and destroyed more than 18,000 structures.

Below is an excerpt from an article at NBC news:

PG&E has agreed to plead guilty to 84 counts of involuntary manslaughter and one felony count of unlawfully causing a fire after it was blamed for the Camp Fire in Northern California, the state’s deadliest in history.

The fire, which burned through the Sierra Nevada foothills for half a month in late 2018, burning through three towns, was sparked by Pacific Gas and Electric Company equipment, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, which identified ignition points in Butte County.

The settlement, which the utility reached with the Butte County District Attorney’s Office on March 17, was filed in the Superior Court of California in the county and made public Monday morning by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

It must still be approved by the Butte County Superior Court, as well as the federal bankruptcy court overseeing PG&E’s case. In January of 2019, PG&E filed for chapter 11 protection to, in part, set up a “Fire Victim Trust.”

A PG&E spokesman told NBC News that the utility has reached settlements with victims from 2015, 2017 and 2018 wildfires, totaling about $25.5 billion.

Last May the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection released results of their investigation which determined that two points of ignition were found that were caused by failures of PG&E electrical transmission lines. One of the towers was 99 years old.

The company is expected to plead guilty in court on April 24, a date that was moved back due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

UPDATE October 10, 2020: PG&E pleaded guilty to 84 counts of involuntary manslaughter on June 16, 2020.

Thanks and a tip of the hat go out to Tom and Erik. Typos or errors, report them HERE.

Trailer for the documentary “Fire in Paradise” released

A story about the Camp Fire that destroyed the city of Paradise, California

Camp Fire satellite photo 10:45 am Nov. 8, 2018. Zeke Lunder
Camp Fire, as it began to burn into Paradise, Calif. LANDSAT 8 image at 10:45 a.m. PT, Nov. 8, 2018. Processed by Zeke Lunder, Deer Creek Resources, Chico, Calif.

Netflix has released a trailer for “Fire in Paradise”, a documentary about the Camp Fire that killed 85 people and destroyed nearly 14,000 homes after it started under a PG&E power line at about 6:30 a.m. on November 8, 2018. Pushed by strong winds, within hours the fire raged through Paradise, California becoming the deadliest and most destructive wildfire in the state’s history. The documentary includes firsthand footage of the fire and interviews with dispatchers, first responders and survivors.

The 39-minute film directed by Drea Cooper and Zackary Canepari will be available for streaming on Netflix November 1, a week before the one year anniversary of the disaster. It won the Audience Award for Best Short Film at the Hamptons International Film Festival.

In July the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection released “Into the Fire”, a 17-minute film about the Camp Fire. Other films about the fire include “The Deadliest Wildfire in California History” by Vice, “The Camp Fire Documentary” by Paradise-area film maker Golden Eagle Films, and “Inside the Megafire” by PBS.

“Rebuilding Paradise” directed by Ron Howard for National Geographic is still under development. It will follow the residents, first responders, and volunteers helping to rebuild the town over the course of a year.

Political candidate creates four-minute ad emphasizing the Camp Fire and climate change

political ad wildfire fire
Screenshot from the video below.

Our policy on Wildfire Today about politics is that it “…will not be discussed, unless it directly affects wildland fire or firefighters”.

A presidential candidate, Bernie Sanders, has created a four minute video ad in which most of those minutes are spent on the topic of the devastating Camp Fire that killed 85 people and destroyed over 14,000 homes in Northern California in November, 2018. The ad also discusses climate change.

Senator Sanders may be using wildfire as a means to talk about climate change, but it is unusual for a political candidate to put this amount of effort into the subject of wildland fire.

Wildfire Today is not going to endorse politicians. If other candidates put forth a similar amount of effort on the subject of wildland fire, we will cover those as well.

VICE on HBO: The Deadliest Wildfire in California History

Gianna Toboni Vice Correspondent Camp Fire Paradise, California
Gianna Toboni, Vice Correspondent, talks with a firefighter at the Camp Fire in Paradise, California.

VICE News has produced a very good segment about the Camp Fire, which burned over 153,000 acres, destroyed 18,804 structures, and resulted in 85 fatalities in November, 2018. It became the most destructive and deadliest wildfire in the recorded history of California.

This video was uploaded to YouTube January 30, 2019. Since then investigators with the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection have determined that the fire was caused by a Pacific Gas and Electric power line.

CAL FIRE confirms — the Camp Fire that destroyed most of Paradise, CA was started by a PG&E powerline

firefighter battles flames Camp Fire
A firefighter battles flames at the Camp Fire. Photo by FirePhotoGirl used with permission.

It comes as no surprise, but the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection has confirmed what was long thought, that equipment on a Pacific Gas and Electric power line started the Camp Fire that burned through Paradise, California. PG&E has been saying for months that it was likely their power line started the fire but CAL FIRE’s investigation now makes it official. This could open the floodgates for numerous civil and possibly criminal cases.

CAL FIRE discovered two points of origin, both caused by the power line. One resulted from vegetation coming in contact with a conductor, but they were not specific about the second source. A few days after the fire started there was an unofficial report that a piece of hardware on a 100-year old high voltage transmission tower failed, causing the line to fall, but this has not been officially confirmed.

CAL Fire did not release its full investigative report, saying it had been forwarded to the Butte County District Attorney’s office, which is considering filing criminal charges against the utility.

The fire started early in the morning on November 8, 2018 near the small community of Pulga northeast of Paradise. It burned over 153,000 acres, destroyed 18,804 structures, and resulted in 85 fatalities. It became the most destructive and deadliest wildfire in the recorded history of California.

Very strong winds and low humidity that day spread the fire rapidly into the town making it impossible to safely fly air tankers and helicopters close to the ground. The wind would have also blown retardant or water far off any selected target.

Thanks and a tip of the hat go out to Tom. Typos or errors, report them HERE.

“Inside the Megafire” premiers May 8 on PBS

Inside the Megafire,” premiering Wednesday, May 8 at 9pm ET/8c and streaming online at PBS

In this episode, NOVA reports from the front line of the Camp Fire, the deadliest wildfire in California history, and follows scientists racing to understand what’s behind the recent rise in record-breaking megafires—from forestry practices, to climate change, to the physics of fire itself.

PROGRAM DESCRIPTION:

Just a few months after California’s devastating Carr Fire, another blaze became the deadliest and most destructive wildfire in the state’s history. As residents raced to evacuate, the Camp Fire devoured 150,000 acres and claimed 86 lives. But how did it get so big so fast? And why are megafires like these becoming more common? NOVA goes to the front lines of the deadliest fires of California’s 2018 fire season to hear from the people who had to flee—and the scientists racing to understand what’s behind these record-breaking infernos. Researchers take to the forest, and even a fire lab, to understand the increasing megafire threat. They explore the physics of fire itself, documenting how firestorms move and travel, and what causes phenomena like fire tornadoes. In the process, they decode the link between climate change, drought, and wildfire. And they show how those environmental factors—combined with a century of fire suppression in the American West and new residential developments in the forest—may have created an unprecedented risk.

PROGRAM PAGE:
(Full program will be available to stream here for several weeks, even for those who do not have a paid subscription to PBS)
https://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/video/inside-the-megafire/

30-SECOND TRAILER:
On Twitter: https://twitter.com/novapbs/status/1124373051666239488