Sonoma County, the town of Windsor and the cities of Cloverdale, Healdsburg and Santa Rosa filed a lawsuit against PG&E on Tuesday, alleging that the utility company’s equipment caused last year’s Kincade Fire.
The fire started in October 2019 and burned nearly 78,000 acres over 13 days, destroying 374 structures, damaging 60 more and causing four injuries.
A Cal Fire investigation completed in July found that PG&E’s power lines located northeast of Geyserville ignited the fire, which was exacerbated by dry vegetation, strong winds, low humidity and hot temperatures.
Cal Fire investigators then sent the report’s findings to the Sonoma County District Attorney’s Office to choose whether to press charges.
The lawsuit alleges that PG&E should be legally responsible for the fire and the resulting injuries and damage to public resources such as land, roads and environmental resources.
Tree removal agreement disputed
The lawsuit was filed in Sonoma County Superior Court, according to the county.
Tuesday’s move comes one week after an unrelated decision by the Lafayette City Council to sue PG&E for failing to uphold its Tree Removal Agreement with the city, Lafayette officials said.
On Nov. 10, PG&E allegedly informed the city that it intended to remove 17 trees on East Bay Regional Park District property within the city of Lafayette, along the Lafayette-Moraga Regional Trail and in an open space north of downtown.
According to the city, the utility stated the tree cutting could begin as early as this Monday, and would take approximately three weeks to complete.
In January 2017, the city and PG&E entered a Tree Removal Agreement, stipulating that the utility cannot remove trees within Lafayette city limits until all obligations in the agreement have been met.
According to the city, PG&E has not met its obligations to “provide all information required by the city’s Tree Protection Regulations,” which prompted the city to host a special City Council meeting this past Thursday where it was decided to file the lawsuit to prevent PG&E from removing the trees.
The lawsuit was filed Friday in the Northern District of California Bankruptcy Court.
The Lafayette and PG&E Tree Removal Agreement can be found online.