PG&E Co. announced early Monday morning that it will plead guilty to 84 counts of involuntary manslaughter and one count of unlawfully starting a fire in connection with the 2018 Camp Fire that ravaged Butte County.
Officials with PG&E said in a statement that the company will pay $4 million in fines, including expenses incurred by the Butte County District Attorney’s Office in their criminal investigation. The blaze killed 85 people and destroyed 18,804 structures, per Cal Fire.
“We cannot change the devastation or ever forget the loss of life that occurred. All of us at PG&E deeply regret this tragedy and the company’s part in it. We have previously acknowledged our role in the Camp Fire,” PG&E CEO and President Bill Johnson said in a statement. “Since the fire, we have worked side-by-side with Butte County residents and public officials to help the Paradise region recover and rebuild. That work continues today, and we are doing everything we can to make things right. We cannot replace all that the fire destroyed, but our hope is that this plea agreement, along with our rebuilding efforts, will help the community move forward from this tragic incident.”
The utility company said it has previously reached settlements with all groups of victims from wildfires in Northern California in 2015, 2017 and 2018, totaling approximately $25.5 billion. The dollar amount includes payment for all claims from individuals impacted by the Camp Fire and reimbursement for claims by Butte County agencies.
The plea agreement and settlement is subject to approval by the Butte County Superior Court and U.S. Bankruptcy Court. The company is awaiting for its reorganization plan to be approved by the Bankruptcy Court so victims can be paid, PG&E officials said.
PG&E officials said the utility company has also agreed to fund efforts to restore water access for the next five years to residents impacted by the loss of the Miocene Canal, destroyed in the blaze.