REDDING, Calif. (AP) — Pacific Gas & Electric has been charged with manslaughter and other crimes in a Northern California wildfire last year that killed four people and destroyed hundreds of homes.
Investigators determined that aging equipment belonging to the nation’s largest utility sparked the Zogg Fire last September near the city of Redding.
Prosecutors on Friday announced the 31 charges, including 11 felonies.
It's the latest action against the utility, which pleaded guilty last year to 84 counts of involuntary manslaughter over a 2018 blaze in the town of Paradise that was ignited by its long-neglected electrical grid.
It was the deadliest U.S. wildfire in a century.
PG&E CEO Patti Poppe released a statement Friday disputing the charges.
She said, in part, "We’ve accepted CAL FIRE’s determination, reached earlier this year, that a tree contacted our electric line and started the Zogg Fire. We accept that conclusion. But we did not commit a crime.
Today's climate and unprecedented drought have forever changed the relationship between trees and power lines. And please know we’re not sitting idly by. We have established a new standard for our lines and the vegetation near them because it poses such a real risk to our communities."