Did a Power Company’s Negligence Spark the Devastating Butte Wildfire?
Victims of the devastating Butte Wildfire in California, which raged for nearly a month before it was finally contained on October 2, are alleging that the local utility played a role in causing the disaster. Many are pointing the finger at Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E), claiming that the fire started after a tree the utility failed to clear touched a PG&E power line and sparked the blaze.
While the state faces the threat of wildfires on a regular basis, this season has been particularly devastating. More than 5,000 fires have occurred, burning at least 150,000 acres.
The Butte Wildfire was one of the most damaging in state history. Three people were killed and nearly 71,000 acres burned. In addition, approximately 950 structures were destroyed, including 475 residences. PG&E issued a statement saying the company is cooperating fully with investigators. Soon after the fire began on September 9, a company official said that a tree may have come in contact with a PG&E line “in the vicinity” of the point of ignition.
The bulk of the damage occurred in Calaveras County, which was declared a disaster area by President Obama. As a result, residents may be eligible for financial assistance through the Federal Emergency Management Administration. FEMA grants may help offset disaster-related costs such as emergency home repairs, dental and medical costs, funeral expenses and others.
While nothing will ever truly replace the homes and possessions lost in the fire, and nothing can make up for the lives that were lost, victims of this tragedy may have legal recourse. Baron & Budd is investigating potential lawsuits against PG&E.