Butte County DA: PG&E could still face criminal charges for Camp Fire

California Connection
Data pix.

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (KTXL) -- Criminal charges are still a possibility for Pacific Gas and Electric for its role in the deadly Camp Fire.

“It’s a rather massive undertaking, quite frankly,” said Butte County District Attorney Mike Ramsey.

DA Ramsey confirmed Friday his office is still investigating PG&E, weighing whether to charge the utility with reckless arson and manslaughter.

“With various enhancements for burning so many homes and so many great bodily injuries,” Ramsey explained. “The other would be potential individual counts for the 80 plus lives lost. So, you’d be looking not just at two counts but mid-80s number of counts.”

The investigation continues more than a year after California’s most deadly and destructive wildfire.

State fire officials found PG&E was to blame while state regulators cited the company for numerous violations in how it handled its equipment.

The Camp Fire nearly destroyed the town of Paradise and the liability launched PG&E into bankruptcy.

“What we have to show is that PG&E or any of the individuals within PG&E acted recklessly with gross negligence in their actions that caused their equipment to fail and cause the Camp Fire,” Ramsey said.

With the possibility of a state takeover looming over the utility, the DA said that will not really change what happens in a possible criminal proceeding.

“Criminally, corporations are treated like persons and that's from the penal code. So you would be, you know, the People of the State of California v. PG&E in a criminal action. But if there was no longer any PG&E, it would be like a defendant that died."

Ramsey said there is a timetable set for the conclusion of this investigation but he would not say when.

Ashley Zavala filed this report.

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