CHICO, Calif. — Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) was negligent and failed to maintain equipment leading to the deaths of 84 people in the Camp Fire on November 8, 2018. Tuesday, PG&E officials appeared in a Butte County courtroom to plead guilty to 84 counts of manslaughter and unlawfully causing a fire.
Fire investigators say the Camp Fire was caused by the dry brush below Tower 27/222 of the Caribou-Palermo line, an electrical transmission line owned and operated by PG&E. Investigators found that PG&E had failed to maintain a piece of equipment at the tower known as a "C Hook."
Prosecutors say PG&E did not replace or repair any of the equipment even though they have owned the line since 1930. The "C Hook" investigators say was responsible for the Camp Fire was 97-years-old and PG&E was unable to provide any company records about the equipment.
Prosecutors say PG&E was aware of wear to the "C Hook" and hanger holes dating as far back as 1987 but failed to take action to repair the equipment or conduct adequate inspections to prevent potential fire danger.
During the post Camp Fire inspections, worn C hooks and worn hanger holes were found throughout the PG&E Overhead Transmission System. Despite the knowledge C hooks and hanger holes wear over time and despite the knowledge of the danger inherent in the failure of a C hook or hanger hole, prosecutors say nobody in PG&E was inspecting C hooks and hanger holes.
Prosecutors argued PG&E officials should be fined the maximum amount for each of the counts of manslaughter or 84 fines of $10,000 and $50,000 for unlawfully starting a fire.