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US San Francisco utility sued for rash of deadly wildfires

03:15  15 november  2017
03:15  15 november  2017 Source:   ap.org

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The lawsuits allege the San Francisco -based utility and its parent PG&E Corp. put profits over safety by failing to trim trees and vegetation around power lines and didn't maintain aging equipment that contributed to the deadly series of wind-driven fires that broke out Oct.

The lawsuits allege the San Francisco -based utility and its parent PG&E Corp. put profits over safety by failing to trim trees and vegetation around power lines and didn't maintain aging equipment that contributed to the deadly series of wind-driven fires that broke out Oct.

Attorney Frank Pitre holds up a newspaper headline with Pacific Gas and Electric saying that someone else's wires may have started the last month's wildfires during a news conference Tuesday, Nov. 14, 2017, in Burlingame, Calif. Looking on at left is attorney Mike Kelly. Five law firms have filed a series of lawsuits against PG&E Corporation and Pacific Gas & Electric Company on behalf of wildfire victims Filed in San Francisco Superior Court on Tuesday, the plaintiffs include former San Francisco Mayor Frank Jordan and his wife who fled the fire and lost their Santa Rosa home, and Gregory and Christina Wilson who sought refuge in their swimming pool in an effort to avoid being burned by the fire. (AP Photo/Eric Risberg) © The Associated Press Attorney Frank Pitre holds up a newspaper headline with Pacific Gas and Electric saying that someone else's wires may have started the last month's wildfires during a news conference Tuesday, Nov. 14, 2017, in Burlingame, Calif. Looking on at left is attorney Mike Kelly. Five law firms have filed a series of lawsuits against PG&E Corporation and Pacific Gas & Electric Company on behalf of wildfire victims Filed in San Francisco Superior Court on Tuesday, the plaintiffs include former San Francisco Mayor Frank Jordan and his wife who fled the fire and lost their Santa Rosa home, and Gregory and Christina Wilson who sought refuge in their swimming pool in an effort to avoid being burned by the fire. (AP Photo/Eric Risberg)

BURLINGAME, Calif. — Pacific Gas and Electric Co. was blamed in three lawsuits filed Tuesday for negligence in the wildfires that killed more than 40 people and destroyed more than 8,000 homes in Northern California last month.

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The lawsuits allege the San Francisco -based utility and its parent PG&E Corp. put profits over safety by failing to trim trees and vegetation around power lines and didn't maintain aging equipment that contributed to the deadly series of wind-driven fires that broke out Oct.

SAN FRANCISCO , Calif. Pacific Gas and Electric Co. is being sued for wildfires that killed more than 40 people and destroyed more than 8,000 Northern California homes last month. Lawsuits filed Tuesday in San Francisco Superior Court say the utility put profits over safety and negligently

The lawsuits allege the San Francisco-based utility and its parent PG&E Corp. put profits over safety by failing to trim trees and vegetation around power lines and didn't maintain aging equipment that contributed to the deadly series of wind-driven fires that broke out Oct. 8 and raged across several counties, including the heart of wine country.

The suits were filed on behalf of three couples who lost their homes in the fires, including former San Francisco Mayor Frank Jordan, and a couple hospitalized after surviving the fire by floating in their swimming pool for hours and dunking underwater repeatedly to escape the extreme heat as flames blew around them and destroyed everything they owned.

"This calamity was preventable," attorney Frank Pitre said.

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9, sued the utility in San Francisco Superior Court. The California Judicial Council is expected to decide whether all the wildfire lawsuits should be coordinated before a single judge for judicial efficiency.

San Francisco utility sued for rash of deadly wildfires . Pacific Gas and Electric Co. was blamed in three lawsuits filed Tuesday for negligence in the wildfires that killed more than 40 people and destroyed over 8,000 homes in Northern California last month.

A PG&E spokesman didn't comment directly on the latest round of lawsuits filed in San Francisco Superior Court over the fires, but said the utility was doing everything it could to help communities rebuild.

The state Department of Forestry and Fire Prevention has not determined the cause of the fires yet, but has mentioned that PG&E is among the potential causes they're investigating.

In response to previous suits from the fire, PG&E said in a court filing that a private power line may have sparked the fire that killed 21 people and destroyed more than 4,400 homes in Sonoma County. Another 22 people were killed and at least 4,500 more structures were destroyed in other fires in the region.

Pitre said PG&E had provided no support for its claims that a third-party may have been involved and he criticized the legal filing that garnered a front-page headline in the San Francisco Chronicle.

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San Francisco utility sued for rash of deadly wildfires . Pacific Gas and Electric Co. was blamed in three lawsuits filed Tuesday for negligence in the wildfires that killed more than 40 people and destroyed over 8,000 homes in Northern California last month.

Pacific Gas and Electric Co. was blamed in three lawsuits filed Tuesday for negligence in the wildfires that killed more than 40 people and destroyed over 8,000 homes in Northern California last month.

"We are outraged at the most recent PG&E submission, which captured a headline where PG&E seeks to shift and deflect blame to an unknown person based on unknown facts," Pitre said. "That's not transparency in our view. That's secrecy. And, frankly, we're tired of it."

Pitre said the lawsuits were aimed at getting the utility and state investigators to turn over materials that will pinpoint the cause of the fires.

One of the plaintiff's, Gregory Wilson, who rode out the fire in his Santa Rosa swimming pool, spoke in a whisper as he discussed the frightening ordeal that put him and his wife, Christina, in an intensive care unit for 10 days with smoke inhalation and burns.

"We watched everything burn around us," said Wilson, who hasn't been able to speak in a normal voice since the fire. "It's a nightmare you can't even imagine. ... We're hoping they can shed light on this so no one will ever have to go through this and, hopefully, no one else will have to die."

___

Associated Press writer Brian Melley in Los Angeles contributed to this story.

Fire policies sidestep key factor: wind .
LOS ANGELES — After last month's deadly Northern California wildfires, atmospheric scientist Cliff Mass scanned old weather forecasts, searching for clues. In two high-resolution weather models for Oct. 8, he found ample warning of the crucial ingredient for the firestorm that swept across parts of eight counties, claiming 43 lives and incinerating more than 8,000 buildings. "I said, 'Oh my God, look at the winds,'" recalled Mass, a University of Washington atmospheric sciences professor who writes a popular weather blog.

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