The Zogg Fire began in September 2020, when a gray pine tree grew into and touched a PG&E 12 kV electrical transmission line north of Igo. That ignited a fire that destroyed 204 buildings and killed four people. The remains of the grey pine was seized by investigators as evidence, who finally announced this past March that the grey pine did indeed spark the fire.
PG&E was supposed to trim trees near its 12 KV lines to prevent this sort of fire from starting. To make matters worse, PG&E had identified the tree as one that needed to be removed long before the fire started. It just never got around to doing the work. Butte county prosecutors have announced that it will bring criminal charges against PG&E for starting the Zogg fire. The exact charges that PG&E will face are to be announced soon.
The Dixie Fire is sadly similar. Instead of a gray pine touching PG&E’s 12 kV transmission lines, this time it was a Douglas fir. But again, it was PG&E’s responsibility to keep the trees near its transmission lines trimmed. Despite having raised money from ratepayers to pay for the work, PG&E did not actually get the work done.
Will prosecutors bring criminal charges against PG&E for the Dixie Fire too?
Perhaps it doesn’t really matter. You can’t put a corporation in jail. The fines associated with corporate criminal conduct are nothing compared to the profits PG&E makes on a daily basis. The only way a Dixie Fire survivor can get justice is to bring a civil lawsuit against PG&E so that PG&E is forced to fully compensate them for their losses. Only by bringing a civil lawsuit can Dixie Fire survivors take the profit out of PG&E’s wrongdoing.