Following revelations by the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (Cal Fire) that its investigators blamed sagging power lines for sparking the deadly Cascade Fire in October 2017, the Yuba County Board of Supervisors announced October 24 that it would be suing utility giant Pacific Gas & Electric Corp. (PG&E) over losses the county suffered in the blaze. Yuba County joins Lake, Mendocino, Napa, and Sonoma counties in bringing suit against PG&E over the October 2017 North Bay Fire Siege.
“This lawsuit is intended to seek compensation from those entities responsible for the fires; costs that should not be shouldered by Yuba County, which is still recovering from the devastation,” the Yuba County Counsel said in a statement, according to the Yuba-Sutter Appeal-Democrat. “Legal action is a necessary step to help restore our resilient community.”
Such costs allegedly include millions of dollars expended toward emergency-response efforts, repairs to infrastructure, and natural-resource recovery. Yuba County reportedly also will seek recovery of lost tax revenue. The lawsuit will not involve damage to private property.
Local residents quoted by the Appeal-Democrat expressed skepticism over the wisdom of the lawsuit.
“They’re going to use my tax money to file a lawsuit against PG&E,” retired firefighter Wyatt Howell told the local publication. “And as the little guy, I have to fend for myself…I’m just not real sold that what they’re doing is right. I think they’re looking for a golden goose egg.”
Wyatt lost structures, equipment, and trees on his property to the Cascade Fire, which burned nearly 10,000 acres and killed four people. He reports having received from his insurance company only about 20% of nearly $300,000 in damage he claims to have suffered.
With lawmakers in Sacramento having recently passed litigation that allows PG&E to pass some of the cost of fire-related lawsuits back onto consumers, Howell wonders what the point of the lawsuit is.
“It’s left a real bad taste in my mouth following the fire,” Howell said.
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Sources: Yuba-Sutter Appeal Democrat