Is PG&E Responsible for the Sulphur Fire?

Our attorneys have filed a personal injury lawsuit on behalf of victims of the Sulphur Fire, alleging that PG&E’s failure to update aging infrastructure and maintain trees near its power lines caused the destructive conflagrations.

Specifically, the lawsuit says, the Sulphur and other fires were ignited when energized electrical distribution lines came in contact with nearby vegetation.

Read a copy of the Sulphur Fire Lawsuit.

Sulphur Fire survivors may have legal claims to compensation from PG&E for property losses, serious injuries, and other damages. Explore your options and your claims with a trusted fire attorney today, free.

Get a free case review.

Consulting Group finds “Significant Safety Issues” with PG&E Operations, Maintenance

The lawsuit’s allegations reference a 2013 report from an independent consulting group hired to review PG&E’s operations and maintenance expenditures. The report identified several “significant safety issues.”

Allegedly Obsolete Conductors

Among these safety concerns is PG&E’s alleged continued use of small, obsolete conductors in over 60% of its inventory, which are highly susceptible to failure and more sensitive to inclement weather conditions than standard size conductors.

Use of Reclosers Despite Increased Wildfire Risks

According to the legal complaint, the 2013 report also noted PG&E’s use of reclosers, circuit breakers that automatically and remotely reenergize power lines when service interruptions occur. The lawsuit alleges that the use of reclosers increases fire danger when service interruptions occur as a result of a power line coming into contact with trees or other vegetation – so much so, that Southern California utilities reprogramed their electrical systems during fire season to prevent reclosers from automatically restarting electrical currents.

Reduction in Tree Maintenance

The lawsuit further alleges that between 2006 and 2013, in an effort to redistribute costs, PG&E actually reduced the number of trees it worked to maintain at a regulatory distance from energized conductors, from 1.7 million to 1.25 million.

Unfilled Repair and Maintenance Requests

According to the lawsuit, yet another audit of PG&E’s systems and operations in 2015 revealed that there were over 3,500 unfilled repair and maintenance requests in the areas of the fires, and that over 50 pieces of equipment, including pole-mounted transformers and power lines, had not been inspected every year as required by law.

About the Sulphur Fire

The Sulphur Fire ignited on the evening of October 9, 2017 and burned for more than two weeks before it was fully contained on October 26, 2017.

One of over a dozen wildfires that raged throughout the North Bay during the month of October, the Sulphur Fire started off Highway 20 and Sulphur Bank Road near Clearlake Oaks in Lake County, and eventually stretched all the way to the top of Sulphur Bank Drive and past Mendocino Street off of Lakeshore Drive. The blaze burned over 2,500 acres and destroyed over one hundred homes and some commercial structures.

Thousands of Lake County residents in lakefront and hillside areas were displaced and hundreds evacuated. Clearlake Oaks, the City of Clearlake, and Clearlake Park were among the areas hardest hit, as well as Holiday Inn, a Clearlake mobile home community where approximately 30 residences were lost.

“The fire isn’t going in any one direction.” – Lake County Fire Chief Willie Sapeta, via Lake County News

Our Experience

The law firms of Danko Meredith, Girard Gibbs, and Corey, Luzaich, de Ghetaldi & Riddle each has experience representing California businesses and families that have suffered losses in previous fires, and we have successfully litigated against some of the largest and most powerful corporations in the country, including PG&E.

We’ve prevailed in prior litigation against PG&E.

  • Following the 2015 Butte fire that destroyed over 70,000 acres, we proved that PG&E was liable for property damage.
  • We did the same in the cases arising from the San Bruno Fires, settling all of them in 2013 – just three years after the blaze.

We know more about PG&E’s fire prevention policies and litigation tactics than nearly anyone.

  • We know how PG&E’s fire prevention programs are supposed to work, how they fall short in practice, and why.
  • We have PG&E’s litigation playbook.
  • We know PG&E inside and out and believe that their approach which values profits over consumer safety needs to change. This will keep happening unless we take action.

Our unique experience positions us to represent our clients’ interests better than anyone else.

Meet Our Attorneys

Amanda Riddle

Corey, Luzaich, de Ghetaldi & Riddle

Dario de Ghetaldi

Corey, Luzaich, de Ghetaldi & Riddle

Brad Bowen

Danko Meredith

Steve Lopez

Gibbs Law Group LLP

More About Our Team

Corey, Luzaich, de Ghetaldi & Riddle

Attorneys Dario de Ghetaldi and Amanda Riddle of Corey, Luzaich, de Ghetaldi & Riddle were co-liaison counsel for nearly 50 families in litigation against PG&E concerning the September 2010 explosion of a 30-inch natural gas transmission line in San Bruno. They currently represent over 200 families who are victims of the 2015 Butte Fire that devastated over 70,000 acres.

Danko Meredith

The attorneys of Danko Meredith have earned hundreds of millions of dollars in settlements and verdicts for their clients; Mike Danko serves as co-lead trial attorney on behalf of victims of the Butte Wildfire, and was recently honored as Trial Lawyer of the Year by San Mateo Trial Lawyers Association.

Girard Gibbs

Girard Gibbs’ attorneys bring more than two decades of experience representing clients in complex cases against utility companies, banks and pharmaceutical manufacturers. The Daily Journal named Girard Gibbs attorney Eric Gibbs to its prestigious list of “Top Plaintiff Lawyers in California” for 2016 and Law360 recognized Eric as a “2016 Consumer Protection MVP,” the only plaintiff-side lawyer in the country selected in that category.