PG&E has agreed to plead guilty to 84 counts of involuntary manslaughter and one 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 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 fire killed 85 people, and the town of Paradise was reduced to ash. The grand jury found that one of the victims died by suicide, leading to the 84 manslaughter counts, The Wall Street Journal reported.
The utility’s plea deal, which the company reached with the Butte County District Attorney’s office and was made public Monday morning in a regulatory filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, was agreed up by PG&E and the Butte County District Attorney’s Office on March 17.
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” to compensate victims of 2017 and 2018 fires that were linked to the company’s equipment.
As part of the agreement, PG&E must also pay the maximum $3.5 million fine on top of $500,000 to the Butte County District Attorney Environmental and Consumer Protection Trust Fund to cover costs related to the investigation of the Camp Fire.
This is a developing story, check back for updates.