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California fire victims see little payout from settlement

The trust was approved by a federal judge as part of PG&E's bankruptcy proceedings after a deadly fire nearly wiped out the town of Paradise.
Credit: AP
FILE - This Dec. 3, 2018, file photo shows homes leveled by the Camp Fire line Valley Ridge Drive in Paradise, Calif. The slow rebuilding of Paradise, the community nearly destroyed two years ago in the deadliest U.S. wildfire in a century, was interrupted this week by another killer wildfire. Paradise was spared and other foothill communities bore the brunt, but the flames that turned the sky crimson and sent panicked residents fleeing was a reminder of the dangers that come with rebuilding in a place where fires could come any year. (AP Photo/Noah Berger, File)

SAN FRANCISCO — An investigation found that a trust set up to help compensate victims of deadly California wildfires sparked by Pacific Gas & Electric equipment paid survivors just $7 million last year in its first year of operation while racking up $51 million in overhead. 

The trust was approved by a federal judge as part of PG&E's bankruptcy proceedings after a deadly fire nearly wiped out the town of Paradise.

It is meant to compensate some 67,000 fire victims. But an investigation by KQED News found that in its first year, the trust spend nearly 90% of its funds on overhead, with some attorneys billing as much as $1,500 an hour.

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WATCH NEXT: California wildfires: How PG&E continues to avoid accountability | FIRE – POWER – MONEY special

With California’s wildfires growing deadlier and bigger than ever, the state’s largest power company admitted to the largest corporate homicide in American history. PG&E killed 84 people when its power lines started the 2018 Camp Fire that destroyed the town of Paradise. Our investigation will take you behind the scenes of the criminal prosecution and look into how PG&E and the California state government are avoiding accountability.

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