1. Environmental Impact
This fire, caused by a tree coming in contact with a live PG&E power line, blackened a beautiful area. It could be decades before it fully recovers. PG&E should fully address the impact to both the environment and to homeowners caused by its actions and inactions.
2. Holding PG&E Accountable
Again, all signs point to the fire being caused due to a tree touching a PG&E power line. The utility is responsible for clearing vegetation a safe distance away from its lines so this type of tragedy does not happen. It appears PG&E was negligent in its responsibility, and must be held accountable in order to minimize the chances anything like this will happen again.
3. Inverse Condemnation
California law uses a legal theory called “inverse condemnation,” an instance where a public utility (such as PG&E) damages or seizes private property without properly compensating the owner. This may allow impacted people to recover a wide range of damages from PG&E as the responsible party.
4. FEMA Assistance Can Only Go So Far
The Federal Emergency Management Administration (FEMA) declared Calaveras County a disaster area, making residents affected by the fire eligible for governmental assistance. However, even if someone were permanently displaced by the fire, he or she would receive no more $32,900. For many, that kind of compensation does not come close to fully and fairly paying for the damages caused by the fire.
If PG&E does not take responsibility for this tragedy and fairly compensate those impacted, a lawsuit may be necessary. In hiring Baron & Budd, an experienced, national environmental law firm, there is no up-front cost; Baron & Budd is paid only if there is a successful resolution for their clients.