Pacific Gas & Electric Co., the largest utility provider in California, pleaded guilty Tuesday to involuntary manslaughter for its role in starting the 2018 wildfire in Northern California that leveled the town of Paradise and killed 84 of its residents. In the course of the trial, investigators discovered that an old PG&E power line in need of maintenance had ignited the blaze, known widely as the Camp Fire. CEO Bill Johnson entered the pleas himself—84 counts of involuntary manslaughter and one felony count of unlawfully starting a fire. Each victim’s name was read aloud. The company has agreed to pay a $3.5 million fine, the maximum, and $500,000 in reimbursement to the district attorney’s office. Johnson said, “On behalf of PG&E, I apologize, and I apologize personally for the pain that was caused here. I make this plea with great sadness and regret, and with eyes wide open to what happened and to what must never happen again.” The company has also entered bankruptcy proceedings largely due to liability from the Camp Fire.
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