PG&E ordered to stand trial for involuntary manslaughter in deadly 2020 Zogg Fire

  • In US
  • 2023-02-02 18:07:36Z
  • By Sacramento Bee

A Northern California judge has ordered Pacific Gas and Electric Co. to stand trial on charges including involuntary manslaughter in connection with the deadly Zogg Fire, which burned near Redding in 2020.

Cal Fire investigators blamed the September 2020 fire, which killed four people including an 8-year-old girl and her mother, on a tree making contact with a PG&E power line. The blaze scorched more than 56,000 acres (88 square miles) and destroyed more than 200 structures in Shasta and Tehama counties before being contained.

The utility company last June pleaded not guilty in Shasta Superior Court to 31 total felony and misdemeanor charges against the company, including four counts of manslaughter, in connection with the Zogg Fire.. Those charges were filed by Shasta County District Attorney Stephanie Bridgett in 2021.

Judge Bradley Boeckman, at the Wednesday conclusion of a seven-day preliminary hearing, allowed prosecutors to proceed with 11 of the 31 charges initially filed, dismissing the remaining 20.

The 11 remaining charges include seven felony counts: four of involuntary manslaughter and three of recklessly starting a fire, the District Attorney's Office said in a statement.

PG&E is scheduled to be arraigned on those charges Feb. 15, court records show.

"We agree with the court's decision to dismiss 20 of the 31 counts charged, including all ten air contaminant charges as well as all charges relating to other fires in Shasta County," PG&E said in an emailed statement. "As we have stated previously, we accept Cal Fire's determination that a tree falling into our power line caused the 2020 Zogg Fire.

"However, we believe PG&E did not commit any crimes. We believe the conduct of our coworkers and contractors reflects good-faith judgment by qualified individuals and we will continue to defend against these charges as the proceeding unfolds."

The Zogg Fire ignited just weeks after PG&E was ordered by a Butte County judge to pay a $4 million fine, its criminal sentence after pleading guilty to 85 felony charges in connection with the devastating 2018 Camp Fire, which killed 85 people.


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