Lawsuit Claims PG&E, Maintenance Contractor Negligence Caused Butte Fire

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A lawsuit filed Tuesday claims PG&E and its maintenance contractor, Trees, Inc., "negligently" caused the destructive Butte Fire.

The suit, filed by the San Diego-based Singleton Law Firm on behalf of fire victims, says PG&E and Trees, Inc. did not properly maintain the electrical infrastructure in the area.

Cal Fire has yet to determine the cause of the fire, which has destroyed about 475 homes and killed two people since it began on Sept. 9. By Tuesday, it was 95 percent contained at 70,868 acres.

The Butte Fire is among the most destructive fires in state history, according to Cal Fire.

PG&E released the following statement:

"Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims and the individuals who lost their homes in this fire.  We are going to continue supporting our customers and working with our first responder partners and the State of California to improve fire safety and fire response.    We will respond to this lawsuit in the normal legal process.  As we’ve said since September 16, we are cooperating fully with CAL FIRE in its investigation on the source of the ignition for the Butte fire.

We want to reassure our customers that we at PG&E take the risk of wildfires very seriously and are focused on doing everything possible to mitigate the risk of fire during this drought."

In a Tuesday conversation with FOX40, Gerald Singleton, the attorney filing the suit said, "The weather conditions weren't such that this would be something that couldn't have been anticipated. So what you have to do is you have to regularly maintain and patrol the lines to make sure that you don't have a situation where a tree can fall on them and cause a fire like this,"

Singleton said it can take as long as two years for a suit of this nature to go to trial, and that's why he wanted to begin the process now.

Trees Inc. is a national company based in Houston, Texas. FOX40 received the following statement:

"Trees, Inc. is cooperating with Cal Fire and PG&E in their investigation and our hearts go out to those affected by the fires that have ravaged the state.  Due to the fact that the investigation is ongoing, Trees, Inc. is not at liberty at this time to comment on the investigation or any pending litigation.  In the meantime, Trees, Inc. remains committed to helping in the restoration effort to get power safely restored to the communities."


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