The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (Cal Fire) announced that it has determined that a Pacific Gas and Electric Co. (PG&E) transmission line was the cause of the lethal Zogg Fire that took place in Shasta County last September.
The Zogg Fire destroyed over 56,000 acres in Shasta and Tehama counties from the end of September last year through mid of October. Around 204 structures were destroyed, one person was injured, and four people of Igo were killed.
Nearly 6 months after the fire began near the town of Igo, Cal Fire released a statement that its investigators determined that the Zogg Fire was caused when electrical transmission lines owned and operated by PG&E made contact with a pine tree near Zogg Mine Rd just north of the community of Igo. The wildfire exploded to 56,000 acres, fueled by two days of intense winds; it damaged more than 200 buildings.
“Cal Fire has determined that the Zogg Fire was caused by a pine tree contacting electrical distribution lines owned and operated by PG&E,” Cal investigators said Monday in a press release.
The blaze erupted on Sept. 27, 2020, in Shasta County, during extreme winds and quickly grew, killing four residents of Igo, a small community located near Redding with a total population of 600. The fire then spread to neighboring Tehama County. Over a two-week period, the fire scorched more than 228 square kilometers (88 square miles) and demolished 204 buildings, about half of them houses.
The four individuals killed in the Zogg Fire were identified as Karin King, 79, Alaina Michelle Rowe, 45, and her eight-year-old daughter Feyla, and Kenneth Vossen, 52.
In response to Cal Fire’s report, PG&E issued a statement, “The loss of life and devastation in the communities impacted by the Zogg Fire is tragic, and we recognize that nothing can heal the hearts of those who have lost so much. We also thank the courageous first responders who saved lives, protected property and worked to contain and put out the fire.”
San Francisco-based PG&E is striving to bounce back from a decade of disasters that began with the 2010 explosion in San Bruno, which killed 8 people and destroyed dozens of homes. In 2016, a federal jury in San Francisco convicted the utility of several felonies in connection with the blast.
Over the past ten years, PG&E has caused a string of lethal fires, including the 2015 Butte Fire in Butte and Amador Counties, the 2017 North Bay and Wind Complex Fires (which spread to 8 counties), the catastrophic 2018 Camp Fire in Butte County, and the 2019 Kincade Fire in Sonoma County. In 2020, PG&E pleaded guilty to 84 counts of involuntary manslaughter in connection with the Camp Fire in Butte County.
In 2020, the California Public Utilities Commission imposed a record-setting $1.94 billion penalty against PG&E for its role in the 2017 and 2018 fires. This is the largest financial punishment ever levied against an American public utility, eclipsing the $1.6 billion fine the CPUC imposed on PG&E in 2015 for causing the San Bruno fire.
California’s Top Wildfire Lawyers
Over the past 15 years, we have represented more than 10,000 fire victims who have been harmed by utility companies throughout the Southwest.
Our approach to these cases is two-pronged. First, we want to make sure that each individual fire victim recovers the full amount of damages they suffered as a result of the utility company’s negligence. Second, we want to force the companies to implement the safety changes required to prevent fires from happening in the future.
PG&E is a case in point. Following both the 2015 Butte Fire and 2017 North Bay Fires, PG&E’s then-executive management team refused to make the changes necessary to protect the public, focusing instead on maximizing the dividends they paid to shareholders.
Following the tragic 2018 Camp Fire, however, PG&E’s conduct began to change. The utility fired its CEO and replaced the majority of its board and senior executives. After emerging from bankruptcy in 2020, PG&E completely restructured its executive management team and has implemented a number of reforms to improve safety. While PG&E’s past actions remain a cause of concern, we are encouraged by these positive changes and pushing PG&E to continue to improve its culture in order to emphasize safety over profits.
While these systemic changes are important, our number one priority is obtaining just compensation for individuals who have been harmed by the Zogg Fire.
In addition to the loss of homes, other structures and personal property, the law permits individuals to recover for a wide variety of other damages, including things such as personal injury, business losses, damage to trees, timber, or landscaping, harm to pets or livestock, emotional distress, and other related losses.
One area of damages that is often overlooked is the damage done to native trees. Shasta is home to beautiful oaks, pines, and firs, which provide the area with much of its natural beauty. Insurance generally does not cover most losses to trees, and the loss of these beautiful, “specimen” trees can significantly lower a property’s value.
If you have suffered any losses in the Zogg Fire, please contact us now for a free case evaluation. There are no fees or costs unless you win your case.
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