California wildfire attorneys are investigating reports that indicate the devastating Kincade wildfire in California may have been started by a downed Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) power line.
The fire has forced hundreds of thousands of people to flee their homes and destroyed almost a hundred structures. PG&E cut power to some lines in the area but kept the power flowing to that particular set of transmission lines, putting thousands of residents in jeopardy.
This is not the first time the utility faced claims its actions resulted in catastrophic fires. PG&E lawsuits have been filed following recent catastrophic California wildfires.
The utility faced harsh criticism and scrutiny for its role in the 2018 Camp Fire and other massive California fires, with the utility facing claims its safety protocols were not adequate to prevent PG&E wildfires.
At Cutter Law, we have seen firsthand the terrible consequences of California fires. We understand how traumatizing wildfires can be, and how stressful the time after them is. Lives are sometimes lost, and family homes are destroyed.
Dealing with insurance companies and filing lawsuits is overwhelming, especially when people are displaced from their homes and trying to rebuild.
We believe in holding utilities like PG&E and insurance companies accountable to California’s residents. California wildfire lawsuits are vital to prevent utilities from starting future fires and to obtain justice for those who are affected by the actions of greedy companies who put profits ahead of safety.
Kincade Wildfire 2019
The Kincade fire started on Oct. 23, 2019, and quickly grew, burning more than 66,000 acres in wine country. It has destroyed at least 100 buildings in northern California, starting in Sonoma County near Geyserville. Some of those affected by the Kincade Fire lived through a similar ordeal in the 2017 Tubbs Fire, which destroyed parts of Sonoma County.
As of Oct. 28, almost 200,000 people have been forced to evacuate to flee the fire, and two firefighters suffered injuries fighting the inferno. One firefighter was seriously injured.
“It is critical that people in evacuation zones heed the warnings from officials and first responders, and have the local and state resources they need as we fight these fires,” Newsom said.
Wind gusts as high as 100 miles per hour were recorded in the area, with embers flying up to a mile away and spreading the blaze.
Among the almost 200,000 people who were evacuated were patients at two hospitals in Santa Rosa.
Kincade Fire Evacuations Lifted
As of Nov. 4, 2019, all evacuation orders were lifted and the fire was around 80 percent contained. Some residents remain under an evacuation warning. There are no fatalities reported linked to the fire, but four firefighters were injured. At least 374 structures, including 174 homes, were destroyed. Approximately 78,000 acres have burned.
In all, around 186,000 residents of Sonoma County were evacuated due to the Kincade wildfire. Of those who returned home, residents of Shiloh Ridge, Mark West Springs, Franz Valley, Knights Valley, and Mount St. Helena were expected to stay under evacuation warning for around 24 hours before that order would be lifted.
Judge Demands Answers from PG&E Regarding Kincade Wildfire
US District Judge William Alsup, who is overseeing PG&E’s probation, demanded answers from the utility related to the Kincade fire. In an order demanding answers, Judge Alsup asked PG&E for information about the utility’s jumper cables, one of which was discovered broken near the Kincade fire’s ignition point.
“What scenarios could plausibly cause a jumper cable to separate from a transmission line during a windstorm?” Judge Alsup asked. “Should we now be worried that other jumper cables inspected in the same manner have potential failures that have gone undetected?” PG&E had previously said the jumper cable that broke was inspected and found to be in good condition.
Additionally, Alsup asked PG&E to provide information on any damage done in and lives lost to fires that could be linked to the utility’s equipment. He also demanded information on how mass blackouts could have potentially sparked the fires.
Separately, PG&E said its equipment might have sparked two fires in Lafayette. One fire might have been started when a power line made contact with a communication line. The second fire reportedly started near a fallen pole and transformer.
PG&E Linked to Kincade Fire
According to documents filed by the utility, PG&E reported a “Transmission level outage” at around 9:20 pm on Oct. 23, 2019. On Oct. 24, CAL FIRE personnel showed a PG&E employee a broken jumper wire near where the Kincade Fire started.
Although PG&E cut power to some lines in the area of the fire, it left power on to that set of transmission lines because those lines were not part of the public safety shutoff.
CAL FIRE is investigating the cause of the Kincade wildfire.
PG&E Linked to Other Catastrophic Wildfires
PG&E’s actions and equipment have been linked to other catastrophic California wildfires. Fire officials blamed the 2018 Camp Fire that killed 85 people on PG&E electrical transmission lines.
Regulators and citizens have criticized PG&E for its inability to maintain equipment that can handle the California winds without triggering wildfires, and lawsuits have been filed against the utility.
California Wildfire Assistance
Wildfire evacuations are often chaotic and traumatic. People’s lives are uprooted, their income may be lost and residents feel helpless. During such confusion, it can be difficult for victims of the Kincaid fire to think about filing insurance claims or lawsuits against the party that caused the fire.
Unfortunately, there are deadlines on taking such steps and failure to do so can mean victims are not properly compensated for the harm done to them.
The team at Cutter Law is highly experienced at holding insurance companies accountable to their policyholders and ensuring claimants receive the maximum amount they are entitled to, including people whose lives have been forever changed by fire.
Filing insurance claims and wildfire lawsuits can be complicated. Our attorneys are available to answer your questions and make the process as simple and stress-free as possible.
Contact us today for a no-obligation consultation. We will advise you of your rights and give you the information you need to be certain you make decisions that are in your best interests.