California company Pacific Gas & Electric has pleaded guilty Tuesday to 84 counts of manslaughter for the cause of the deadly and massive Camp Fire, which tore through communities in the northern part of the state, in 2018, in what is considered the worst forest fires in modern state history.
“Our equipment started the fire,” PG&E Corp CEO and President Bill Johnson said during a hearing of the tribunal.
“I wish there was a way to get back on what happened, or to take away from the impact, the pain that these people have suffered,” Johnson said. “But I know that this can not be done. “
Butte County Superior Court Judge Judge Michael read the name of each victim, as he went through each count of manslaughter.
The company also pleaded guilty to unlawfully causing a fire. The utility agreed to plead guilty in March.
At least 84 people died directly from the fire which destroyed the town of Paradise and destroyed large parts of Concow, Magalia and other areas of Butte County after it broke out on the morning of Nov. 8, 2018.
The deadliest and most destructive forest fires in California history has done more than 18 800 structures, including 13,696 single-family homes and 528 companies.
Let our news to respond to your inbox. The news and stories that matters, delivered the morning of the week.
The judge is expected to formally sentence PG&E on Thursday or Friday, although no person will be imprisoned for the society of crimes.
PG&E has agreed to pay a fine of $ 3.5 million to more than $500,000 for the cost of the survey. The company filed for bankruptcy in January 2019.
Butte County District Attorney Mike Ramsey said during a press conference that he hoped Tuesday’s guilty pleas send a message to other companies in the united States.
“This was a historic moment, and we hope, a historic moment for corporate America — namely, that the prosecutors, which will not allow them to get away with recklessly endangering the lives of the citizens that they serve,” Ramsey said.
A PG&E high voltage tower was at the origin of the fire, Ramsey said, and he held up a badly worn hook as an example of negligence.
The day of the fire, a bracket broke and sent a power line on the structure where there was an electrical arc, which sent sparks on the brush and grass below. Ramsey said once the line is dropped, and walked about the structure, between 5 000 and 10 000 degrees of heat has been generated. The molten metal is cast on the ground, in the middle of a historic drought, and 40 km / h of wind.
PG&E is the approach of the end of a complex bankruptcy case that he used to work on $25.5 billion in settlements to pay for the damages of the fire, and others who have burned large areas of Northern California and killed dozens of others, in 2017, The Associated Press reported.
The bankruptcy offerings include an amount of € 13.5 billion for wildfire victims. A federal judge is expected to make a final decision on PG&E’s plan, by 30 June.
Johnson, the chief executive officer, said in court Tuesday, said that the utility is improving its inspection procedures, and curing of its energy system. He was hired about six months after the Camp-Fire, and plans to step down once the bankruptcy is approved.
“PG&E will never forget the Camp-Fire, and all that he has taken of the region,” Johnson said in the court. “We remain deeply, deeply sorry for this event and the tragic consequences. “
Some who have lost loved ones in the fire are expected to give victim impact statements on Wednesday. Even some of those who have survived their health ruined by the fire, the district attorney said.
Ramsey, seeking to explain what he describes as a culture of neglect that had difficulty overlooking the maintenance and training, has stated that, in the investigation ” , it became clear that the result has been a driving force. “
Ramsey said he was satisfied with the result, that PG&E has pleaded guilty, beyond a reasonable doubt.
“We are satisfied with the punishment? No, ” he said. “But we are to receive the punishment for a company which is the maximum in the law that California allows. “