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Four Calif. counties decide not to file charges against PG&E over 2017 wildfires

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Four Calif. counties decide not to file charges against PG&E over 2017 wildfires

District attorneys for Napa, Humboldt, Sonoma and Lake counties in California decided not to file criminal charges against Pacific Gas and Electric Co., or PG&E, in relation to the October 2017 wildfires in Northern California.

"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 district attorney's offices said in March 12 statement.

The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection in June 2018 determined that the utility's equipment contributed to 12 wildfires and forwarded that information to relevant county district attorneys' offices for review. Following their review, the district attorneys said it was difficult to prove that PG&E failed in its duty to remove trees because the possible location of the physical evidence were decimated by the fires.

Despite this development, the PG&E and its parent PG&E Corp. are still facing federal criminal probation and are defendant in many private civil cases related to the wildfires. The companies filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection on Jan. 29, citing billions of dollars in potential liabilities from the wildfires.