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California utility PG&E is ‘criminally liable’ for the fatal 2020 Zogg Fire, prosecutor says

By Alexandra Meeks, CNN

Criminal charges will be filed against the Pacific Gas and Electric Company in connection with Zogg Fire, which killed four people and damaged numerous homes and structures, the district attorney for Shasta County in California said Thursday.

DA Stephanie Bridgett said in a statement that PG&E was “criminally liable” and that charges will be filed by September 27, the one-year anniversary of the blaze.

A final decision regarding the nature and grade of charges has not yet been determined, according to the district attorney’s office.

“I hope this information brings awareness to the importance of fire prevention during the current drought and severe wildfire season,” Bridgett said.

The Zogg fire was sparked by a pine tree contacting PG&E electrical lines, Cal Fire officials determined in March 2021. The fire burned more than 56,000 acres across Shasta and Tehama counties and took 16 days to reach full containment, according to Cal Fire. A total of 204 residential and commercial structures were destroyed and 27 other structures were damaged.

CNN has reached out to PG&E for comment.

In a previous statement, the nation’s largest utility apologized for igniting the Zogg Fire and said they remain focused on reducing wildfire risk.

“The loss of life and devastation in the communities impacted by the Zogg Fire is tragic, and we recognize that nothing can heal the hearts of those who have lost so much,” PG&E previously said in a press release. “We also thank the courageous first responders who saved lives, protected property and worked to contain and put out the fire.”

The embattled utility has faced several lawsuits over faulty power lines and declared bankruptcy in 2019.

In June 2020, PG&E pleaded guilty to 84 counts of involuntary manslaughter and one count of unlawfully starting the Camp Fire, the deadliest blaze in the state’s history.

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CNN’s Madeline Holcombe contributed to this report.

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