PG&E Ordered to Explain its Role in 2021 California Fires
(Bloomberg) -- PG&E Corp. was ordered by a judge to identify each of the California wildfires its equipment started this year, and to explain in particular what role the utility played in igniting the Fly fire, which has merged with the much larger Dixie blaze.
U.S. District Judge William Alsup, who oversees PG&E’s criminal probation, issued the order late Friday and asked for a response by noon on Aug. 16. Alsup demanded details about the equipment and vegetation in the area of where the Fly and Dixie fires started. The San Francisco judge also wants information about the circuits suspected of igniting them, as well the names of PG&E officers, employees or contractors who allowed the circuit to remain energized.
“PG&E’s responses will not be deemed as an admission by PG&E that it caused any fire, but they will serve as a starting point for discussion,” Alsup wrote.
“We’re aware of the court’s orders and will respond by the deadline,” the company said in an emailed statement.
The order adds to the pile of problems for PG&E in the early stages of another disastrous fire season in California. The utility was driven into bankruptcy in 2019 after its equipment started catastrophic fires that killed more than 100 people and destroyed more than 22,000 structures.
Read More: PG&E Faces Criminal Charges for 2020 Wildfire, Official Says
The utility emerged from bankruptcy last year, though the potential criminal and civil liability the utility faces for causing this year’s fires including the Dixie blaze, California’s largest this year, will test the company’s solvency.
Since it ignited July 13, the Dixie fire has burned more than 447,000 acres, and is about 21% contained, according to an update late Saturday by the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, or CalFire.
The case is U.S. v. PG&E, 14-cr-00175, U.S. District Court, Northern District of California (San Francisco).
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