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PG&E won't face criminal charges for 2017 wine country wildfires in California

Key Points
  • PG&E Corp. won't face criminal charges in connection a series of wildfires that hit California's wine country in October 2017, four local district attorneys announced late Tuesday.
  • Cal Fire previously blamed the San Francisco-based electric utility's equipment for at least 17 wildfires in the state's wine country in October 2017, including two blazes that resulted in a total of 13 fatalities.
  • PG&E, the state's largest electric utility, filed for bankruptcy protection in late January after getting hit with a flood of lawsuits from devastating wildfires in Northern California in 2017 and 2018.
Pacific Gas & Electric Co. (PG&E) employees work to fix downed power lines burned by wildfires in this aerial photograph taken above Santa Rosa, California, U.S., on Thursday, Oct. 12, 2017.
David Paul Morris | Bloomberg | Getty Images

PG&E Corp. won't be facing criminal charges in connection to a series of wildfires that hit Northern California's wine country in October 2017, four local district attorneys announced late Tuesday.

Cal Fire previously blamed the San Francisco-based electric utility's equipment for at least 17 wildfires in the state's wine country in October 2017, including two blazes that resulted in a total of 13 fatalities. But PG&E was cleared earlier this year by the fire agency for the Tubbs Fire in 2017 that killed 22 people in Sonoma County.

PG&E, the state's largest electric utility, filed for bankruptcy protection in late January after getting hit with a flood of lawsuits from devastating wildfires in Northern California in 2017 and 2018.

In a press release, Sonoma County District Attorney Jill Ravitch announced her agency and the district attorneys for Napa, Humboldt and Lake counties will not pursue criminal charges against PG&E in connection with the October 2017 wildfires.

"After an extensive review, each office determined that insufficient evidence exists to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that PG&E acted with a reckless disregard for human life in causing the fires, the standard necessary to sustain criminal charges," the statement said.

However, the release added that "PG&E remains on federal criminal probation and is a defendant in many private civil cases arising out of the wildfires seeking, among other remedies, financial compensation. Sonoma County is a party to one of the civil lawsuits."

In addition, PG&E still faces possible criminal prosecution in connection with the November 2018 Camp Fire in Butte County, which killed 86 people and destroyed more than 10,000 homes in the town of Paradise. Last month, PG&E said in a regulatory filing that it believes it's "probable" that the company's equipment will be found to be the source of the Camp Fire.