The Mosquito Fire started on September 6, 2022, near the Oxbow Reservoir, near the town of Foresthill, in the Tahoe National Forest. During its first two weeks, the fire jumped the Middle Fork of the American River twice, once from north to south and then from south to north. The fire consumed 76,788 acres in Placer and El Dorado counties, around 120 square miles. In the midst of shifting wind conditions, residents from Foresthill, Georgetown, Volcanoville, and other smaller communities were evacuated.
The fire destroyed 78 buildings in its path, mostly homes. Around 500 firefighters fought the blaze, which damaged 13 other buildings. No serious injuries or deaths were reported as a result of the blaze. On October 22, 2022, the U.S. Forest Service reported that the fire was 100 percent contained. For more information, reach out to a Mosquito Fire attorney.
How was the Fire Caused?
According to a report from the Sacramento Bee, officials from the U.S. Forest Service opened a criminal investigation into the cause of the Mosquito Fire days after it began and seized equipment belonging to PG&E. An initial assessment conducted by the Forest Service and Cal Fire revealed that the fire started in the area of the utility company’s power line.
Officials from PG&E claimed on September 8 that they had not noticed anything abnormal with the pole before the fire broke out but had filed a report with the Public Utilities Commission about the pole “out of an abundance of caution.”
PG&E recently opened its claim process.
It’s Not the First Time PG&E’s Equipment Started a Fire
PG&E is no stranger to having its equipment blamed for wildfires in California. In 2019, the company filed for bankruptcy after a series of large wildfires erupted due to its equipment, including the 2018 Camp Fire, which leveled the town of Paradise on its way to becoming the most deadly fire in the state’s history.
PG&E’s equipment was also found to have started the Dixie Fire, which burned more than one million acres in Northern California, as well as the Kincade Fire that burned in Sonoma County in 2019. The company is also facing criminal charges for the 2020 Zogg Fire in Shasta County that resulted in four deaths.
As reported by PBS, in all, PG&E was blamed for more than 30 wildfires since 2017, which have wiped out a combined total of 23,000 homes and businesses, and have resulted in the deaths of more than 100 people. The company has reached settlements with the victims of these fires of more than $25.5 billion.
Earlier this spring, a $55 million settlement helped the company avoid being criminally prosecuted for the Dixie and Kincade fires and also included a provision that the company submit to five years of oversight by an independent monitor. This outcome is similar to the supervision that PG&E was ordered to undergo after being convicted of misconduct following a 2010 natural gas explosion that killed eight people.
Lawsuits Filed Against PG&E for the Mosquito Fire
Recently, plaintiffs filed a lawsuit against PG&E in state court in San Francisco due to the Mosquito Fire. The lawsuit alleges that the company has “a history of acting recklessly and with conscious disregard to human life and safety, and this history of recklessness and conscious disregard was a substantial factor in bringing about the Mosquito Fire.” At the time of the suit’s filing, the company noted in an emailed statement that Cal Fire and the U.S. Forest Service had not yet decided on the cause of the Mosquito Fire and that PG&E is focused on reducing the risk of wildfire throughout its entire service area.
According to an attorney representing the claimants, in that case, the company’s insurance provider will likely cover most of the damages caused by the fire. If those damages exceed $1 billion, PG&E can also seek money from the state’s wildfire insurance fund. In all, the company itself is not likely to pay more than “a few hundred million” to compensate victims of the fire, which is unlikely to even make a dent in its profit margin.