Cutter Law has filed a lawsuit against PG&E alleging the utility company is responsible for the devastating Camp Fire that killed at least 88 people and destroyed thousands of homes and other structures. The lawsuit claims PG&E failed to adequately maintain its equipment and transmission lines and did not properly maintain vegetation around its equipment and transmission lines, despite knowing about the extreme drought conditions in California.
The PG&E lawsuit was filed on behalf of several people who suffered damages, losses, and injuries in the Camp Fire. Wrongful death lawsuits have also been filed against PG&E on behalf of people who lost family members and other loved ones in the fire.
Paradise Evacuation Order Lifted
Dec. 21, 2018
Evacuation orders have been lifted and for the first time since they fled from the Camp Fire, all residents have been told they can return to their homes, or what is left of their homes. On Saturday, Dec. 15 at 9:00 a.m., evacuation orders were lifted for residents while non-residents were allowed in at 9:00 a.m. on Dec. 16.
Even to those returning to homes, there are limited services in Paradise and the surrounding area, and residents have been advised to use power generators and ensure they come back with food, water, and fuel for vehicles. Authorities also warned people they should not live on destroyed property until it has been properly cleared of hazardous waste, including heavy metals and other carcinogens.
Officials are still investigating the fire’s cause, although PG&E has been told to explain whether it played any role in starting that fire, or previous major wildfires. The utility has until Dec. 31 to submit its answers.
Dec. 12, 2018, Paradise Holds Public Meeting
Paradise Fire Update Dec 7, 2018 – Authorities Revise the Number of Victims
Officials have announced that the Camp Fire death toll has been lowered from 88 to 85, following instances in which an abundance of caution led to authorities double counting at least one victim. Searchers noted that the area they had to cover to find remains was incredibly large, making the process of finding victims much more difficult. Even with the revised death toll at 85, the Camp Fire is still the deadliest wildfire in California history.
Although the active search for fire victims has now closed, the death toll could still increase as 11 people were still unaccounted for when authorities announced the revised number of fatalities.
Paradise Fire Update Dec 7, 2018 – Some Families Return to Paradise
Officials lifted the evacuation order for some areas of Paradise, allowing residents in parts of the east side of Paradise to see what remained of their homes. On Wednesday, December 5, some residents were allowed in their neighborhoods and the following day non-residents were allowed in parts of the town. Not everyone is able to go back to their homes, however, as officials have to consider safety hazards before lifting further evacuation orders. Those whose homes were destroyed now face the difficult decision of whether to rebuild.
As many as 10 people are still unaccounted for following the tragic fire. At least 85 people died, with authorities identifying or tentatively identifying many of the victims.
Paradise Fire Update Dec 6, 2018
Cutter Law Advises Merced Policyholders to Pursue Claim Against PG&E
In the wake of the devastating Paradise Fire and news that Merced Property & Casualty has folded, Cutter Law advises people with Merced fire insurance policies to consider filing a claim against PG&E to recover losses. Although Merced policyholders will be covered for up to $500,000 under the California Insurance Guarantee Association, there is still the possibility that not all damages will be recovered and it is vital that PG&E is held accountable for their actions if their equipment caused the tragic fire.
PG&E has acknowledged issues with some of its equipment in the area the Camp Fire started.
Our attorneys are currently preparing to file a lawsuit against PG&E on behalf of our Merced clients.
Paradise Fire Update Dec 5, 2018
Insurance Company Folds After Wildfire
Following an astronomically high number of claims linked to the Camp Fire, Merced Property & Casualty Co. has folded leaving the California Department of Insurance in charge of Merced’s liquidation and policyholders to turn to the California Insurance Guarantee Association (CIGA). According to court documents, Merced has assets of around $23 million but owes at least $64 million in liabilities.
Policyholders still have coverage through CIGA, but if their claims exceed CIGA’s limits, the additional amount will count as a claim against Merced’s assets. CIGA reportedly covers property insurance claims of up to $500,000.
Paradise Fire Update Dec 4, 2018
Wrongful Death Lawsuit Filed Against PG&E
Paradise Fire Update Nov. 30
Wrongful Death Lawsuit Filed Against PG&E
Searchers have officially finished combing through more than 18,000 buildings and structures destroyed in the Paradise Fire and may allow some residents to return home in early December. Those residents have been warned, however, that there is still the possibility of coming across bone fragments, and they should contact authorities if they find any evidence of remains.
Although not all residents will be able to return, those who lived in the south and east areas will likely be allowed to as clean up crews move to other areas of the town. Even those who can return home will likely find ashes as only 1,700 structures in the town survived the blaze.
Lawsuits have already been filed against PG&E, alleging the utility is responsible for the Camp Fire, including at least one wrongful death lawsuit. More wrongful death lawsuits will also likely be filed against the utility, with many people arguing the utility’s negligence caused the tragic fire that took at least 88 lives.
Paradise Fire Update Nov. 29, 2018
Officials say that as of Nov. 29 three days have gone by with no new human remains found, raising hopes that the death toll will stop increasing. So far, 88 fatalities have been confirmed, the highest number of fatalities ever linked to a California wildfire. Meanwhile, residents could be able to return to their homes in early December, if rains and flash flooding don’t delay the return. Property that was burned must be declared free of hazardous waste before people can return to their homes.
Paradise Fire Update Nov. 28, 2018
Camp Fire Most Destructive in California’s History
The Paradise wildfire (also called the Camp Fire) has become one of the most destructive fires in California history, killing 88 people and destroying the town of Paradise. Officials are still investigating what caused the deadly California wildfire, although PG&E has reported an issue with a transmission tower near where the Camp Fire started.
At Cutter Law, we understand the devastation that a California wildfire can cause. We’ve helped families who were displaced by wildfires; who lost everything and had to pick up the pieces afterward. We know how stressful and complicated it is dealing with the aftermath, filling out insurance claims and making vital decisions about your family’s future. That’s why we make it our mission to ensure anyone affected by California fires knows and understands their rights.
We’re no strangers to fighting against companies who violate the rights of people living in California. Our highly skilled attorneys have fought against unethical companies who put profits above safety and jeopardize people’s lives.
As of November 13, 2018, 42 people had died, and more than 7,600 structures burned down, the highest toll for fatalities and structures in a California wildfire. The Camp Fire burned the town of Paradise, in Butte County, approximately 175 miles north of San Francisco. More than 125,000 acres have burned. Meanwhile, 52,000 people have been under evacuation orders, and more than 220 were missing at one point.
Even people who were evacuated did not make it out in time, with some bodies found in cars on roadways. With only one main evacuation route, vehicles jammed the road as residents tried to escape the Paradise Fire and responders had to focus on helping the people along the road rather than fighting the fire.
The Paradise Camp Fire started on November 8 near Camp Creek Road and quickly grew thanks to strong winds and incredibly dry conditions.
Paradise Destroyed by Wild Fire
Paradise Vice Mayor Greg Bolin said the town, which was burned up to 90 percent, “is gone.” State Senator Jim Nielsen said it was possible that many people who lost their homes would not be able to afford to return, while council member Michael Zuccolillo said the remaining buildings were barely standing and the town was unrecognizable.
Acting Governor Gavin Newsom declared a state of emergency for the region affected by the Butte County Fire.
PG&E Releases Statement on Camp Fire
On November 9, 2018, PG&E released a statement about the Camp Fire, noting that around 6:15 a.m. on November 8, the utility “experienced an outage on the Caribou-Palermo 115 kV Transmission Line in Butte County.” PG&E also noted that there was damage to a transmission tower on the same line. That damage was near where the Camp Fire started.
Furthermore, before the Paradise Fire began, PG&E reportedly emailed at least one resident near where the fire started about issues with sparks. The utility requested access to the property so it could work on power lines, but the resident was out of town.
Officials are investigating what caused the Camp Fire that destroyed Paradise, but no cause has been released. If the fire was caused by negligence, lawsuits may be filed against the organization responsible for the fire.
PG&E has been found responsible in the past for California wildfires. In June 2018, California fire investigators said PG&E’s failure to clear trees and brush from power lines resulted in eight wildfires in 2017. Those fires were among a rash of fires that killed 44 people. Residents filed lawsuits against PG&E alleging their losses were caused by the utility’s negligence.
Two Dead in Woolsey Fire
In addition to the more than 40 deaths in the Camp Fire, the Woolsey Fire in Southern California has killed two people. More than 93,000 acres and at least 435 structures have burned. SoCal Edison reported the “Big Rock 16 kV circuit out of Chatsworth Substation relayed at 2:22 p.m.,” two minutes before the first reports of the Woolsey Fire came in. Officials have not said if that report is related to the start of the Woolsey Fire.
Paradise Wild Fire Attorneys
At Cutter Law, we know there is nothing that can undo the loss and destruction caused by a California wildfire. Families have lost everything and suffered extreme emotional trauma as they escaped. Towns have been devastated, and lives have been lost. We also know the emotional toll that happens after the fire, when families have to decide whether to rebuild and where to establish their lives.
Although this is an incredibly stressful time, it’s also an important time to understand your rights hold the responsible parties accountable for their actions. Our lawyers have the experience and expertise to fight against large companies that repeatedly risk people’s lives through negligence and greed.
We might not be able to undo the damage caused by the California fires, but we can stand beside the people whose lives have been affected and help make this time less stressful. We can make sure they know their rights.
If you were affected by a California wildfire, it’s in your best interest to contact an experienced California wildfire attorney for a no-obligation consultation today. We’re here for you through this terrible time.
Please note: Cutter Law is no longer accepting new Camp Fire cases.