Pacific Gas & Electric said Thursday that its equipment had probably caused Camp's fire, with the catastrophic fire of November having destroyed thousands of homes in Paradise, California, and killed at least 86 people.
PG & E, which filed for bankruptcy protection in January, said it had registered a $ 10.5 billion charge in anticipation of claims for damages for this fire, the deadliest in the history of l & # 39; State. Largely because of this, the company recorded a loss of $ 6.9 billion for 2018.
Although the cause of the fire is still the subject of an official investigation by California authorities, PG & E said that she "thought it was likely that her equipment would be considered a lighting point of the camp fire of 2018 ". Attempts to determine the cause of the central fire on the Caribou-Palermo electricity transmission line, of a length of 56 km. In its report, PG & E stated that line inspections had detected equipment to be repaired or replaced.
PG & E, serving approximately 16 million people in northern and central California, has been criticized by lawmakers, consumer groups and others for not doing enough to reduce the risk of fires triggered by its network of transmission lines and conductors. In addition to its camp fire expenses, PG & E has recorded a $ 1 billion charge for liability for wildfires in 2017.
On Thursday, the company said it was intensifying equipment inspections in areas considered by regulators to be high risk of fire. "We recognize that more needs to be done to address the growing threat of wildfires and extreme weather conditions in order to protect our customers and our communities," said John Simon, Acting Executive Director of PG & E, in a statement. a statement.
PG & E said its bankruptcy filing was intended to protect it from overcharging its liabilities in the event of forest fires. But some investors said that PG & E did not need protection against bankruptcy because it was earning enough money to pay the fire claims when due. PG & E shares, which have more than doubled in recent weeks, lost about 1.5% on Thursday morning.
The company has already used its bankruptcy filing to stop payments to some fire victims. PG & E has stopped making payments for the Butte fire claims of 2015. But the fire does not seem to be a heavy financial burden for the company. In the fourth quarter, PG & E recorded legal fees of $ 9 million for the Butte Fire, a fraction of the expenses incurred for the other fires.
"Due to recent lawsuits related to forest fires and the financial uncertainty surrounding them, PG & E has stopped making settlement offers to individual complainants," the company said in an e-mail message. "Under the Chapter 11 process, any Butte fire regulation that has not been paid will be dealt with in the event of bankruptcy."