Camp Fire survivors file lawsuits against PG&E
CHICO, Butte County —
In the wake of the Camp Fire, PG&E now faces at least 100 lawsuits from people accusing them of starting of the blaze.
KRCR spoke with Paul Moreno with PG&E on Tuesday about the surge of legal action facing the company.
Moreno said the cause of the fire is still under investigation but they're working hard to repair the damage and prevent more wildfires from starting in the future.
They will be starting by coordinating with state and local officials to decide how to rebuild the infrastructure including evaluating whether or not to install underground power lines.
Moreno also said employees in Butte County are focusing on doing their jobs not legal troubles.
"Our first priority is safety of our communities and our employees. We are certainly aware of the lawsuits that have been filed. But our priority right now is helping restore gas power and electricity to help our customers that have been impacted and those communities," said Moreno.
Moreno also said they're looking to add additional safety and operational enhancements including detailed inspections of transmission lines over the 5,500 miles of high fire threat area starting in 2019 and better vegetation management around equipment and adding approximately 1,300 new weather stations by 2022.
Some are saying PG&E's efforts are too little too late. Tuesday afternoon, lawyers Frank Pitre from Cotchett, Pitre & McCarthy and Michael Kelly from Walkup, Melodia, Kelly and Schoenberger held a meeting in Chico to discuss the 100 separate lawsuits they're currently filing against PG&E since the Camp Fire.
A women named Louise Howell who was trapped by flames during the Camp Fire and narrowly escaped with her life shared evidence and a heartfelt testimony.
"I want them to pay for this if they did it and make everyone whole," said Howell.
Louise Howell said she was just enjoying her morning routine when the Camp Fire broke out near her home in Concow.
"My dog started barking really loud and I saw a big plume coming up over the mountain," said Howell.
A day that would change her and her life forever.
"I ran in and called my mother and said there's a huge fire out here. I don't know if I'll see you again or not but I'll try," said Howell.
Howell tried to escape in her car but was forced to make a split minute decision as flames closed in around her.
"So, we jumped into the lake. Some of us. Some of us couldn't. I don't know how long we were in there, awhile and then they came and said that they were going to take the burn victims out first," said Howell.
Now, she's just happy to have survived but wants to make sure this never happens to someone else again.
"I don't want PG&E to be able to hurt people anymore."