April 2018 - Fire Recovery
Written by CRM
Wednesday, 28 March 2018 18:46
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Northern California fires appear to be caused by local utility company PG&E.

With over 200,000 acres burned, more than 7,900 structures destroyed, and 600 others severely damaged, it is important equestrians and homeowners get the help they need. That help may include assistance with insurance claims or potential additional compensation from those responsible for the fires.  If you (or your horses) were evacuated or you suffered damage to your property or barn, lost possessions, suffered personal injury, experienced damage to equipment or supplies, or lost income as a result of the fires, you may have a potential claim. At the Law Offices of Alex Schack, we have the experience necessary to help fire victims pursue potential claims for equestrian losses, including evacuation costs, lost business and many other equestrian specific damages known only to those in the industry.

While Cal Fire investigators have yet to rule on an official cause, they are looking into the potential liability of Pacific Gas & Electric, including reports of downed power lines, arcing wires, and transformer problems near where the fires started.  PG&E admitted that destructive winds and vegetation growth contributed to trees and other debris impacting PG&E’s electrical lines.  The company’s spokesman further stated that PG&E “found instances of wires down, broken poles and impacted infrastructure.” California laws require that PG&E’s equipment be able to withstand high winds, particularly in fire prone areas, to avoid such occurrences. California law also requires that utilities like PG&E maintain adequate clearance between power lines and vegetation to avoid the ignition of fires. Early reports suggest PG&E may not have satisfied these requirements. In a Form 8-K filing with the SEC dated October 13, 2017, PG&E stated that the cause of the fires was being investigated by Cal Fire, “including the possible role of power lines and other facilities of Pacific Gas and Electric Company’s…” PG&E further noted in the filing that it has approximately $800 million in liability insurance for losses potentially attributable to the fires. On October 17, 2017, CNBC reported that “Christopher Turnure, an analyst at JPMorgan covering the stock, said in a note Sunday: “We assign a 75% chance of PG&E being found liable for the Northern California wildfires.”

In early November, PG&E released several incident reports that further suggested they caused the fires.  These reports are generated in connection with equipment issues, downed lines, etc.

On December 20, 2017, PG&E eliminated its quarterly shareholder dividends, including for shares of preferred stock. PG&E Chairman Richard Kelly stated, “after extensive consideration and in light of the uncertainty associated with the causes and potential liabilities associated with these wildfires as well as state policy uncertainties, the PG&E boards determined that suspending the common and preferred stock dividends is prudent with respect to cash conservation and is in the best long-term interests of the companies, our customers and our shareholders.”1 Following the announcement, PG&E stock fell from approximately $52 per share to $46.32 per share.

In early January 2018, the Public Utilities Commission released un-redacted versions of PG&E’s previously released incident reports. In particular, the un-redacted versions list the specific addresses of reported incidents of downed power lines, sparking wires, and other fire related incidents occurring around the time of the fires. Four of these released addresses correspond to the origins of the Atlas, Nuns, Patrick, and Tubbs Fires identified by Cal Fire. Other incident reports include addresses that appear to be near the suspected origin points of the Pocket, Redwood Valley, Sulphur, and Nuns Fires.

As horse owners and victims of the 2007 San Diego Wildfires themselves, the owners of the Law Offices of Alex Schack understand that Northern California fire victims are going through a very difficult time right now.

Kathy Schack, the wife of attorney Alex Schack, has owned Savoir Faire Stables (“SFS”) in San Marcos, California with her sisters Jeanne Burns and Sandy Burns Gardner since 1999. They operate a full boarding, training and rehabilitation business (www.sfsdressage.com). In 2007, SFS took in many horses as well as helped evacuate dozens of horses to the Del Mar Fairgrounds as a result of the 2007 San Diego Wildfires. In connection with these fires, the Law Offices of Alex Schack ultimately represented hundreds of clients against the local utility company that caused the fires.  Based on their personal experience and knowledge of the fires’ effect on the equestrian community, Kathy and Alex Schack worked with numerous members of the equestrian community, a somewhat forgotten group of victims with unique fire damages, to maximize their recovery.

Given their personal and professional experience with the 2007 San Diego Wildfires, the Law Offices of Alex Schack believes it is important to understand your rights regarding the Northern California Fires, whether that be concerning insurance claims or potential additional compensation from those responsible for the fires.

For more information about a potential legal claim and assistance with insurance claims, fire victims can contact us at (707) 702-HELP or visit our website at www.Califireattorneys.com.
Article provided by the Law Offices of Alex Schack.
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1 www.sacbee.com/news/local/article190899439.html