PG&E to plead guilty to involuntary manslaughter in California wildfires

PG&E to plead guilty to involuntary manslaughter in California wildfires
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California-based utility Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E) will reportedly plead guilty to dozens of counts of involuntary manslaughter after reaching a deal with California prosecutors over its equipment's role in starting a deadly 2018 wildfire.

The Butte County district attorney's office confirmed to The Hill that they have reached a deal calling for PG&E officials to plead guilty to 84 counts of manslaughter and one count of illegally starting the Camp Fire. The plea deal is now awaiting a judge's approval.

“On Nov. 8, 2018, the Camp Fire destroyed the towns of Paradise and Concow, impacted Magalia and other parts of Butte County and took the lives of more than 80 people. Thousands lost their homes and businesses. Many others were forced to evacuate and leave their lives behind. Our equipment started the fire. Those are the facts, and with this plea agreement we accept responsibility for our role in the fire," PG&E added in a news release on Monday.

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"The action we took today is an important step in taking responsibility for the past and working to create a better future for all concerned. We want wildfire victims, our customers, our regulators and leaders to know that the lessons we learned from the Camp Fire remain a driving force for us to transform this company," the company continued.

Eighty-four people died in the Camp Fire and another died by suicide, making it the deadliest wildfire in the state's history. A German firm that estimated that the cost of disaster relief said it was the most expensive disaster in the world in 2018, with the fire causing more than $16.5 billion in damage.

PG&E is already embroiled in bankruptcy proceedings after California's forestry bureau found it liable for starting the Camp Fire, which led to the destruction of Paradise, Calif., and drove tens of thousands of residents from their homes.

Updated at 4:10 p.m. with statements from Butte County prosecutors and PG&E.