SAN FRANCISCO — (The video above is from February 3, 2021)
A federal judge demanded that a lawyer representing PG&E explain himself, under oath, after giving an answer that didn't divulge knowledge PG&E had about its safety work ahead of the deadly 2020 Zogg Fire.
In a court order Thursday, US District Judge William Alsup said that he found a PG&E contractor had previously marked the tree suspected of sparking that fire as needing to be removed.
The fire killed four people last September in and around Igo, a small community in the hills above Redding.
PG&E attorney Kevin Orsini told Alsup in a February 3 hearing that "three different sets of qualified foresters" had evaluated the tree and "made a determination that they were not going to mark that tree for removal."
After reviewing evidence turned in by PG&E, Alsup said he's concluded that company contractors did mark the tree for removal. He demanded to know why PG&E's lawyer didn't include that in his answer.
"Mountain G Enterprises, a PG&E contractor, marked the Gray Pine in question for work in 2018 but that work was never done," Alsup said after reviewing evidence turned into his court by PG&E. "Attorney Orsini shall please explain (under oath) why he stated the above to the Court without also stating that MGE had marked the Gray Pine for work."
Attorneys familiar with the case and federal courts told ABC10 that the demand for an attorney to provide answers under oath is highly unusual, with one remarking, "I've never seen this before."
Orsini did not respond to an emailed request for comment.
Cal Fire investigators seized evidence from PG&E's power line after the flames of the Zogg Fire killed four people, including an eight-year-old girl and her mother.
PG&E submitted paper records and other evidence to Alsup's court after he began asking questions about the fire, which is the subject of an ongoing investigation for possible homicide charges in Shasta County.