SAN FRANCISCO (KRON) — Three families who lost their homes in the North Bay Firestorm are now suing PG&E for negligence.
The families who filed the suit on Thursday said they had to flee for their lives when the fire encroached on their Redwood Valley homes in Mendocino County.
On Thursday, KRON4 talked to one of the plaintiffs and his lawyer about why they believe the power company is to blame.
Just one day before the firestorm broke out, Nemesio Ruiz–and his wife and two children–were celebrating his son’s birthday at their Mendocino County home. The fire eventually got as close as his backyard.
They were told by firefighters they had 5 minutes to get out or risk being trapped.
“It was very scary,” Ruiz said. “So, we had to leave it. When we came back, everything was gone.”
And this is what was left of their home when they returned–rubble.
On Thursday, a lawsuit was filed on behalf of the Ruiz family and two others in the same neighborhood who lost it all in the fires, blaming PG&E for starting the fire, despite the fact an official cause has not been released.
“They failed to maintain their equipment, the powerlines” attorney Mary Alexander said. “And they also failed to keep the brush, and the trees, and the bushes trimmed as they’re required to do by law,”
Alexander also says PG&E knew a windstorm was forecast and should have shut off power proactively.
“We don’t want to have people without power, but this is far worse,” Alexander said.
The plaintiff’s attorney believes all the fires that ravaged the wine country, killing over 40 people and destroying over 3,000 homes, are connected and expects more affected families to join the lawsuit.
The attorney says she’s filed the lawsuit in San Francisco, rather than in Mendocino because this is where PG&E’s headquarters are, where decisions were made that she alleges makes them accountable.
In response to a similar lawsuit, the utility said it would not speculate on the causes of the fires and that it was cooperating with investigators.
Here is PG&E’s statement:
Nothing is more important to us than the safety and well-being of our customers and communities we serve. Our thoughts are with everyone impacted by these devastating wildfires.
We are aware that lawsuits have been filed. Beyond that, we’re going to be focused on doing everything we can to help these communities rebuild and recover.
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