PG&E agrees to $13.5B settlement with Northern California fire victims

Bay Area

SAN FRANCISCO (KRON) — PG&E has agreed to a multi-billion dollar settlement to resolve claims from those affected in several deadly fires in Northern California, including the Butte Fire, Tubbs Fire and the Ghost Ship warehouse fire.

The agreement is valued at $13.5 billion, according to PG&E, and will resolve victims’ claims from the destructive fires.

The Butte Fire burned in Amador County in 2015. More than 70,000 acres burned and 475 homes were destroyed. The fire also claimed the lives of two people.

The Tubbs Fire, which destroyed parts of Sonoma, Napa and Lake counties, was the most destructive fire at the time in California — until the Camp Fire the following year.

The Tubbs Fire burned more than 36,000 acres and a total of 22 people died.

The Ghost Ship fire burned in 2016 at a warehouse used as an artist and living space in Oakland’s Fruitvale neighborhood. Three dozen people were killed in the Dec. 2, 2016 fire.

Two men were criminally charged in the warehouse fire and faced a jury over the summer. One of the defendants, Max Harris, was acquitted by the jury of all charges. The second suspect, Derick Almena, is awaiting a retrial after a hung jury in September.

The $13.5 billion settlement will resolve claims from those affected by the three fires.

The settlement is part of PG&E’s bankruptcy filing from earlier this year.

Bill Johnson, president of PG&E, said compensating fire victims is the corporation’s primary goal during the bankruptcy process.

“We appreciate all the hard work by many stakeholders that went into reaching this agreement,” Johnson said in a statement. “With this important milestone now accomplished, we are focused on emerging from Chapter 11 as the utility of the future that our customers and communities expect and deserve.”

Friday’s agreement is the third settlement since the company’s bankruptcy filing in January.

In addition to the victims’ settlement, the company has also paid out $1 billion as part of a settlement with cities, counties and public agencies.

Additionally, another $11 billion has been agreed in a separate settlement with insurance companies.

Friday’s agreement, according to PG&E, will help the company withdraw from bankruptcy by June 30, 2020.

PG&E reiterated Friday that the $13.5 billion settlement is not an admission of fault for the Tubbs or Ghost Ship fires.

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