SAN FRANCISCO — A group of 35 families filed a lawsuit against the Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) alleging that the 153,000-acre Camp Fire in Paradise is the fault of the energy company, with the families' attorney claiming that the company knew of elevated risks ahead of the fire.
Angela Jae Chun, an attorney with CaseyGerry a firm in San Diego, is representing the plaintiffs in the case and said that there was evidence pointing to PG&E having known of or been responsible for the devastation.
"My group, Camp Fire Trial Lawyers, has conducted our own investigation into the cause of the Camp fire," Jae Chun told the Northern California Record.
Jae Chun alleged that PG&E knew that there was a high fire risk on Nov. 8, due to a "27 red flag warning," placed by the National Weather Service, denoting the highest level of fire danger warning.
"In fact, PG&E called and sent emails to PG&E customers in and around Paradise warning customers of the high fire hazard on November 8th and 9th and that power might be shut off," Jae Chun said. "We know that power was not shut off."
Jae Chun said that the power should have been shut off to prevent fire from breaking out, but PG&E did not, even when the company allegedly knew about a problem with one of its transmission lines.
"PGE’s negligent maintenance of its power lines and equipment has caused numerous wildfires in recent years including the Butte fire in 2015 and last year’s 21 North Bay fires," Jae Chun said.
According to the SF Chronicle, the fire may have been caused by the malfunction of a high-voltage line near the starting point of the fire. Utility equipment has been linked to over 12 of the Wine Country fires in 2017, California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection says.
The families filed the lawsuit against PG&E on Nov. 13 in the Butte County Superior Court.