SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Gov. Gavin Newsom’s office told ABC10 that “no governor in California history has done more to hold PG&E accountable.”
But yet, PG&E has fallen under criminal investigations for starting new big wildfires every year since the company burned down the town of Paradise in 2018.
Starting next Tuesday, August 10th, ABC10's award-winning FIRE - POWER - MONEY team will bring you an in-depth investigation of how the governor helped PG&E.
Here's a look at the timeline of PG&E’s disasters:
- 2010... PG&E was convicted of six federal felonies, including obstruction of the investigation, stemming from the 2010 San Bruno Gas Explosion. The blast killed eight people. Due to this conviction, the company was placed on probation until 2022, paid a $3 million fine, and was sentenced to 10,000 hours of community service.
- 2017... PG&E started serving time on probation in 2017, and as a convicted felon, donated $208,000 to Gavin Newsom’s run for governor.
- 2018... Newsom wins the governor's race in November of 2018. Three days later, the Camp Fire started, destroying the town of Paradise and nearby communities. The fire resulted in the deaths of 85 people. It was determined the company left a hook hanging for nearly a hundred years until it broke, dropped a power line and sparked the fire.
- 2019... Problems with similar parts on a high tension power line are blamed for sparking the Kincade Fire. It burned more than a hundred homes in wine country. No one died, but it was close. Firefighters were injured trying to save people. PG&E is fighting multiple felony and misdemeanor charges filed by Sonoma County in connection to the Kincade Fire.
- 2020... PG&E pleaded guilty to 84 felony counts of manslaughter, and one felony for sparking the Camp Fire through criminally reckless behavior. Three months after the court proceedings for the Camp Fire, the Zogg Fire broke out when a tree hit a PG&E power line in Shasta County. Four people died, including eight-year-old Feyla McLeod and her mother, both of whom burned to death running for their lives in a pickup truck. It’s an active homicide investigation and prosecutors recently announced they will be filing charges against PG&E and possibly officials who work there. The judge managing PG&E’s probation already found PG&E committed safety "violations" when PG&E’s contractors marked an unsafe tree leaning over the power line, but no one ever followed up to cut it down.
- 2021... PG&E’s legal obligation to find and cut trees threatening power lines is again under investigation for the Dixie Fire, which is still raging through communities ever since igniting on July 13. The fire started where a tree fell on a PG&E power line just a short distance up the Feather River Canyon from where PG&E sparked the Camp Fire. The question for investigators isn’t whether PG&E sparked the Dixie Fire, but whether PG&E is criminally responsible. That question hinges on whether PG&E should have found the tree and cut it before it fell.
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