PG&E: California power firm to pay $13.5bn to wildfire victims

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A firefighter battles the Camp Fire blaze in Paradise, CaliforniaImage source, EPA
Image caption,
The Camp Fire killed scores of people and caused billions of dollars of damage

Californian utility giant Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E) has agreed a $13.5bn (£10.2bn) settlement with victims of wildfires in the state.

The company's equipment has been linked to several blazes including the deadliest and most destructive wildfire in state history, 2018's Camp Fire.

PG&E filed for bankruptcy this year and has already settled with insurers and local authorities.

The agreements should allow the firm to emerge from bankruptcy.

PG&E's settlement relates to claims over several deadly blazes:

  • The 2018 Camp Fire which killed 85 people in and around the town of Paradise. Investigators blamed the fire on PG&E transmission lines
  • The 2017 Northern California wildfires, which swept through the state's wine country killing more than 30 people
  • The 2016 Ghost Ship Fire in Oakland, when a blaze tore through a warehouse that had been converted into a music venue and artist collective. 36 people died
  • The 2015 Butte Fire, which caused two deaths and burned down hundreds of structures. Authorities said a PG&E power line came in contact with a tree, sparking the blaze.

PG&E President Bill Johnson said since entering the bankruptcy process "getting wildfire victims fairly compensated, especially the individuals, has been our primary goal.

"We want to help our customers, our neighbours and our friends in those impacted areas recover and rebuild after these tragic wildfires," he said.

This year saw yet more rampant wildfires and the firm sought to prevent them by cutting off power to customers in California.

More on wildfires in California:

Media caption,

California wildfires survivor's tearful account of escape with son