Fire report could complicate PG&E bankruptcy decision

A state fire investigation's conclusion that Pacific Gas & Electric Corp. equipment wasn’t to blame for a 2017 wildfire that killed 22 people in Northern California wine country could hamper lawsuits by victims of the blaze and complicate the utility's plans to file for bankruptcy.

In a long-awaited report, state investigators said the blaze that destroyed more than 5,600 structures in Sonoma and Napa counties started next to a residence and was caused by a private electrical system. The state firefighting agency didn’t find any violations of state law in its investigation of the Tubbs Fire.

PG&E previously said it plans to file for bankruptcy protection next week, citing at least $30 billion in potential damages over the wine country blaze and other California wildfires in 2017 and 2018, including the most destructive wildfire in the state's history.

That blaze in November took out the city of Paradise and killed at least 86 people. The cause remains under investigation, but speculation has centered on PG&E after the utility reported power line problems nearby around the time it began.

The utility is facing hundreds of lawsuits from victims of the 2017 and 2018 fires.

 

 

Dawn Kamber