Utilities company Pacific Gas and Electric pleaded guilty on Tuesday to 84 counts of involuntary manslaughter in the case over the devastating 2018 wildfire in Paradise, California.
“Our equipment started that fire,” PG&E CEO Bill Johnson said in a court hearing, during which the names of each person who died in the fire were read aloud, reported Northern California NBC news affiliate KCRA. “PG&E will never forget the Camp fire and all that it took away from the region.”
The company announced it would submit a guilty plea earlier this year and agreed to pay a fine of $3.5 million.
The Camp fire in November 2018 was the deadliest-ever wildfire in state history. The fast-moving blaze tore through the rural town of Paradise in Northern California, torching nearly 90% of the community. For months afterward, survivors were sleeping on others’ couches, doubled up in homes and squeezed into trailers or other vehicles. Some were in homeless shelters.
PG&E equipment has been linked to several fires in the state. The company filed for bankruptcy in January 2019 and has agreed to pay billions of dollars in settlements in lawsuits from victims of wildfires in 2017 and 2018.
Earlier this year Democratic state Sen. Scott Wiener pushed legislation to turn PG&E into a publicly owned utility, though such a bill would likely be difficult to pass.
After PG&E spurred outrage last year for cutting power to more than 2 million people in Northern California in an attempt to prevent further fires, Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) has slammed the company for its history of prioritizing profits over public safety.
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