Archive for the ‘Fire’ Category

Con Fire graduates Fire Academy 57, adds 27 lateral firefighters to ranks

Tuesday, May 24th, 2022

Lateral Fire Academy 57 graduates. Source: Con Fire

New firefighters to be assigned to stations across District, supporting staffing for challenging fire weather

By Steve Hill, Public Information Officer, Contra Costa County Fire Protection District

CONCORD, CA – Contra Costa County Fire Protection District (Con Fire) announced Tuesday the graduation of its Lateral Fire Academy 57 and the addition of 27 new experienced firefighters to the District’s ranks.

Academy 57 consisted exclusively of experienced firefighters from other agencies across the state and region who chose to join Con Fire to continue their careers. The abbreviated eight-week course of instruction was designed to align students’ past training with Con Fire’s organization and procedures.

Beginning this week, the new firefighter graduates of Academy 57 will join crews across the District, bolstering ranks that have been challenged by the early arrival of dangerous fire weather.

Chief Lewis Broschard speaks during the Academy 57 graduation ceremony on Monday, May 23, 2022. Source: Con Fire

Speaking at Monday evening’s graduation ceremony, Fire Chief Lewis Broschard said, “Each of these 27 experienced firefighters chose to uproot their careers and families to make a life choice to continue their careers with Con Fire. We appreciate and value their decisions.”

Broschard added, “We took great care to select the very best people possible for this academy, from many qualified applications. I am confident we chose right. Congratulations on completing Academy 57 and thank you for making the decision to serve with Con Fire.”

The graduating firefighters underwent a physically and mentally challenging eight-week course of instruction using the latest firefighting and training techniques. In addition to structure firefighting techniques, these firefighters enhanced their knowledge and skills in wildland firefighting, rescue, automobile extrication, hazardous materials response, emergency medical services, and other techniques they can be expected to put to use in their first assignments as probationary firefighters. The training was designed to develop each trainee’s ability to function under stress and perform as a member of a disciplined firefighting crew.

The graduation ceremony was held at Walnut Creek’s Lesher Center for the Arts on May 23, before an audience of several hundred family members, friends, local officials and public well-wishers. Each graduate was “pinned” with their firefighter badge and sworn in as a Con Fire firefighter.

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Two transient men arrested by Con Fire for arson in Antioch, Bay Point

Wednesday, March 23rd, 2022

Scene of the fire set by an arson in Bay Point on Tuesday, March 22, 2022. Photo: ConFire

Quick investigative work results in two arrests within 48 hours

By Steve Hill, PIO, Con Fire

CONCORD, CALIF., Mar. 23, 2022 – Contra Costa County Fire Protection District (Con Fire) today announced its fire investigators made arrests in the last 48 hours in two separate, intentionally set fires in Antioch and Bay Point.

On March 21, a Con Fire investigator responded to an exterior fire burning in brush along the soundwall near Larkspur Drive and Hillcrest Avenue in Antioch. Nearby, Jason McGee, 27, a transient living in Antioch, who had been seen in the area of the fire, was identified as a suspect.

During questioning, McGee admitted to lighting this fire and a witness in the area further identified the suspect as having been seen lighting another fire the previous Friday. McGee was subsequently arrested for both fires and transported to the Martinez Detention Facility for booking on two charges of Arson of a Structure or Forest Land (PC § 451(c)).

On March 22, Con Fire investigators arrested Emanuel Serrano, 25, a transient, in the vicinity of two vegetation fires burning along Highway Four near Evora and Willow Pass Roads in Bay Point. The two separate fires originated along the walking trail next to westbound Highway 4.

As crews were arriving, a witness pointed out a subject who they had observed starting the fires. Investigators checked the area and observed Serrano running through a nearby field. Searching the area on foot and from above with an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV), investigators located the suspect hiding in tall vegetation on a nearby hill where he was taken into custody.

Witnesses positively identified Serrano as the individual seen starting the fires. Investigators conducted an “origin and cause” investigation, which did not reveal ignition sources other than human activity in the area of the fires. Serrano was transported to and booked into the Martinez Detention Facility, charged with two counts of Arson of a Structure or Forest Land (PC § 451(c)).

Con Fire’s Fire Investigation Unit asks residents to help them fight the crime of arson by calling the Arson Tip Line at 1-866-50-ARSON. They caution residents not to hesitate on information that seems too little or unimportant, adding some of the most valuable tips come from residents who were not aware what they saw was very important to the investigation of an incident. Residents can leave a recorded message on the tip line about fire-related criminal activity in English or Spanish. Tips can be anonymous, and all tips are treated confidentially. But investigators sometimes need additional information, so contact information is encouraged.

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ConFire rescues man from underground storm water pipe in Antioch Sunday evening

Wednesday, March 23rd, 2022

Man brought to surface after rescue from drainage pipe in Antioch where he had been stuck for two days on Sunday, March 20, 2022. Photos: Con Fire

Some 50 fire personnel conduct rare, complex and risky rescue to free man in 30’s from where he had been trapped for up to two days

By Steve Hill, PIO, Con Fire

Contra Costa County Fire Protection District (Con Fire) led a three-and-a-half-hour, nearly 50-person rescue effort Sunday evening that freed a man in his thirties from an underground storm water pipe where he had been stuck for up to two days.

The rescue took place after passersby heard cries for help coming from underground and reported this to 911. Con Fire was notified at 5:37 p.m. Sunday of someone possibly stuck in a drainage pipe near the 3100 block of Buchanan Road in Antioch. Arriving on scene moments later, firefighters quickly determined someone was trapped and launched the rescue effort.

The complex, high risk, and rare “confined space” rescue was conducted by specially trained firefighter technicians from Con Fire and East Contra Costa Fire with support from City of Antioch Public Works and Antioch PD. Four Con Fire firefighters, connected by umbilical cords for breathing air and underground communications, made entry into the storm water infrastructure, locating the victim, clearing considerable debris blocking his path, and bringing him to the surface shortly before 9 p.m.

“As an all-risk fire agency, we train for rare rescues such as this,” said Contra Costa County Fire Protection District Fire Chief Lewis Broschard. “Still, this was a complex and high-risk rescue effort that required extensive specialized resources and the skill and experience of many professionals from across the District to successfully complete.”

Confined space rescues are both uncommon and high risk. They are highly complex for many reasons including oftentimes the unknown location and condition of the victim and the potential risks to both victim and rescuers. Confined spaces such as these are not intended for humans to occupy, consequently, they may be an oxygen-deficient environment not capable of supporting human life.

In this case, uncertain of how to successfully reach the man through several potential access points, the incident commander ordered two simultaneous rescue attempts from opposite sides of the drainage pipe. The first, which eventually proved successful, involved sending rescue firefighters into a nearby underground vault to make their way to and free the victim. At the same time, City of Antioch Public Works responders were directed to use a backhoe to dig down to the underground pipe on the opposite side of the victim’s location in case it became necessary to break it open to affect a rescue from that direction.

Con Fire personnel carry man to a waiting ambulance following rescue from pipe.

Con Fire firefighters routinely train to conduct restricted space and a wide variety of other rescue types at our Training Division on Treat Boulevard in Concord. In addition to academic training facilities, the Con Fire training campus has many sophisticated training props designed to allow firefighters to train in the most realistic environments possible for rescues such as this.

Rescuers were unable to determine the man’s motivation for entering the stormwater drainage system or his exact entry point, which is believed to have been some distance from the rescue location.

Once brought to the surface, the victim was evaluated at the scene, determined to be uninjured, and transported to Sutter Delta for further evaluation.

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Fire closes down long-time Antioch restaurant The Red Caboose Monday morning

Monday, March 21st, 2022

The Red Caboose is still standing but fire damaged the back side of the building including the office and kitchen on Monday, March 21, 2022. Photos: Allen D. Payton (left & all other except for, right) The Red Caboose

Initial investigation shows it started outside; an Antioch landmark since the late 1960’s

The fire damaged the ceiling and roof over the bar area.

By Allen D. Payton

An early morning fire burned much of the kitchen, office, and other parts of The Red Caboose restaurant in Antioch causing it to close down, Monday. A post on the restaurant’s Facebook page Monday morning by Judy Pence, who with her husband own the restaurant, but not the building alerted the public to the tragedy. The restaurant is located at the end of Fulton Shipyard Road next to the old Antioch boat launch, Rodger’s Point and the former Tommy’s Harbor.

“Well, I don’t even know what to say. We got the call at 4:00 am. The Red Caboose Restaurant is gone. Needless to say…. We will be closed until further notice,” she wrote.

According to ConFire PIO Steve Hill, it was a single alarm fire. ConFire was called at 3:26 AM. “We got on scene pretty quickly,” he said. “It was in the kitchen area. It’s under investigation. The preliminary investigation says it does appear the fire started on the exterior. When we got there the kitchen was fully engulfed in flames.” Hill said he will provide more details later once the investigation is concluded.

Damage to the office.

“The fire started outside and went through the wall in the office off the parking lot,” John Pence stated.  “It destroyed the kitchen. But unlike a lot of restaurant fires it didn’t start in the kitchen.”

Asked if most of the building is still standing, he said, “yes”.

“The deep fryer, the charbroiler, the flat top and the stove are still fine. So, it wasn’t a kitchen fire,” he pointed out during a tour of the damage to the restaurant. “The fire appeared to have started behind the office and then run up along the eaves to the kitchen.”

Asked if they’re going to rebuild, Pence said they own the restaurant but not the building. The building is owned by the Boccio family in Antioch.

Restaurant owner John Pence points out there was no damage to some of the kitchen equipment.

When asked if she plans to rebuild, building owner Phyllis Boccio said, “I haven’t even thought about it. My daughter has been down there for about an hour, and I’ll know more when she gets back.”

Both Boccio’s daughter Nancie Boccio and son, Dr. Jim Boccio, Jr. were on scene of the restaurant, Monday morning.

Asked how long the restaurant had been open, Jim said their parents bought the building in the late 1960’s. It had previously been a bar, he shared.

They said their dad, Jim Boccio, Sr. who passed away in 2020, brought the caboose up from Southern California and added it onto the then-existing building.

3/22/22 UPDATE: In a post on The Red Caboose Facebook page, Tuesday morning, restaurant owners John and Judy Pence shared the following message:

“Good Morning. John and I want to thank everyone in this amazing community for all the kind (mostly 😊) words, support and encouragement. The Red Caboose is so much more than us. It is community, friendship, a place to come and get away, be you, hang out, eat good food, and mostly, have fun. We have strived over the last few years to make it a welcoming and homey place. Our staff is the best and we couldn’t have done it without them. To say they are heart broken is an understatement. There have been suggestions to start a go-fund me to help rebuild, but honestly it is too early to know what is going to happen. There is still much to be done with the insurance and a lot will depend on what the landlord decides to do. Please bear with us as we sift through what’s left, deal with the insurance and just try to get a grasp on things.

Again we are so thankful for the support from our friends, patrons, and the community as a whole.
Much Love, John and Judy Pence”
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East Contra Costa Fire District annexation to Con Fire approved

Friday, March 11th, 2022

Will provide improved fire and emergency response throughout county, particularly in East County

When complete, CCCFPD will absorb the firefighting staff, support staff, facilities, equipment of ECCFPD

By Steve Aubert, Fire Marshal and PIO, East Contra Costa Fire Protection District

MARTINEZ, CALIF., March 11, 2022 — On March 9, 2022, the Contra Costa County Local Area Formation Commission (LAFCo) unanimously approved the annexation of East Contra Costa Fire Protection District (ECCFPD) to the Contra Costa County Fire Protection District (CCCFPD) and the dissolution of ECCFPD. The LAFCo action is the final step in the long-planned, collaborative effort to consolidate fire services in eastern Contra Costa County.

Benefits of annexation for residents are expected to enhance and expand fire and emergency medical services to East Contra Costa County while improving the efficiency, effectiveness, and economy of fire protection services in the region.

“The annexation of East Contra Costa Fire into Contra Costa County Fire, together with the allocation of Measure X funds, will double the number of stations serving East County residents, with additional stations opening as soon as this summer,” said Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors District 3 Supervisor Diane Burgis. “This has rightly been characterized as a historic achievement, resolving service deficits that have plagued East County for decades. When I had the opportunity to attend the graduation ceremony of 27 Con Fire recruits last week, I was overwhelmed with gratitude for the brave firefighters that serve us every day, the many community leaders who worked long hours to achieve this outcome, and the residents who entrusted us with the resources to improve services.”

“Today is a day for celebration,” said Brian J. Oftedal, President of the ECCFPD Board of Directors. “The cooperation and collaboration of so many individuals has made this annexation a reality. Residents in East Contra Costa will now receive the services they deserve. Response times will improve, fire apparatus will arrive with a paramedic on board, and slowly but surely, improved ISO rating will help residents and businesses save money on annual fire insurance bills. For everyone that has been a part of improving public safety in our county, thank you.”

Finally bringing this decades-long concept of annexation to reality for our two fire districts will improve fire, rescue, and emergency medical service delivery and improve safety for our firefighters throughout the many communities we serve in the eastern portions of our county,” said Lewis Broschard, Fire Chief, Contra Costa County Fire Protection District. “As we move ahead to implementing the changes that will see the benefits of annexation become reality, I am grateful to our board of directors, labor organizations, and our fire district staff for their support.”

“On behalf of the ECCFPD, we are pleased that this monumental day has come in joining our two agencies to improve emergency services throughout East County,” said East Contra Costa Fire Protection District Fire Chief Brian Helmick. “Thank you to Supervisor Burgis and to all those who have supported us to reach this historical day.”

With LAFCo’s actions, CCCFPD will complete the operational and administrative consolidation of the two entities. When complete, CCCFPD will absorb the firefighting staff, support staff, facilities, and equipment of the ECCFPD, and the newly merged organization will provide improved fire and emergency services to the more than 128,000 residents of eastern Contra Costa County.

While both fire districts already work very closely on mutual aid assignments across current borders, each maintains separate operations, training, and administrative functions, annexation will allow for achieving economies of scale by bringing the separate operational entities under one administrative structure.

Annexation is also expected to reduce current burdens on the agencies’ busiest stations by increasing resources within the current footprint of East Contra Costa Fire District in East County.

About Contra Costa County Fire Protection District (Con Fire) — A recognized fire service Leader – Con Fire provides fire and emergency medical services to some 625,000 residents in 14 cities and unincorporated areas across our 304 square-mile jurisdiction. And, through our unique ambulance Alliance, we provide EMS and ambulance transport services to much of the remainder of Contra Costa County, California. With few exceptions, county emergency ambulance transport services are provided by Con Fire through its unique sub-contractor Alliance model across the District and beyond to include some 520 square miles of the County. In 2021, the District responded to more than 141,000 incidents of all types, including some 55,000 fire and EMS emergencies, and dispatched nearly 100,000 ambulances, providing expert medical care on more than 75,000 ambulance transports.The District, with 26 fire stations and more than 400 employees, is dedicated to preserving life, property, and the environment.

About East Contra Costa Fire Protection District — The East Contra Costa Fire Protection District (ECCFPD) is a rural-funded fire district that currently operates three fire stations and has a three-station deficit. The District protects a population of more than 128,000 across its 249 square-mile service area. ECCFPD provides firefighting personnel, emergency medical services (basic life support), and fire prevention to the residents and businesses of the cities of Brentwood and Oakley, and unincorporated communities of Discovery Bay, Bethel Island, Knightsen, Byron, Marsh Creek, and Morgan Territory. Learn more at www.eccfpd.org or on social media via Facebook (East Contra Costa Fire Protection District), Instagram(@east_contra_costa_fire), Twitter (@ECCFPD ) or our YouTube channel (East Contra Costa Fire Protection District).

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COVID-19 boosters for the badge mandated in Contra Costa starting Jan. 10

Wednesday, December 29th, 2021

Or weekly negative test in spite of mild omicron variant symptoms and CDC discontinuing PCR tests as of Friday; includes police, firefighters, paramedics, ambulance drivers, and workers in hospitals, jails, nursing or congregate care facilities, and homeless shelters.

By Allen Payton

On Monday, Dec. 27, 2021, Contra Costa County Health Officer, Dr. Chris Farnitano issued another order mandating county first responders and workers in homeless shelters to verify they have received a booster dose of vaccine or a weekly negative COVID test.

Contra Costa Health Services claims it’s being done, “to better protect the county’s health system from becoming overwhelmed by the highly contagious omicron variant of COVID-19.”

This requirement applies within the county to law enforcement officers, firefighters and emergency medical personnel who work in or may respond to emergency calls at high-risk facilities such as hospitals, jails, nursing or congregate care facilities, as well as all workers in homeless shelters. It also applies to non-emergency ambulance workers who provide medical transport for such facilities.

The order, which takes effect on January 10, requires unboosted workers to test weekly with either a PCR or antigen test for COVID-19.

Yet, the CDC issued a Lab Alert on their website on July 21, 2021, that “After December 31, 2021, CDC will withdraw the request to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) of the CDC 2019-Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) Real-Time RT-PCR Diagnostic Panel, the assay first introduced in February 2020 for detection of SARS-CoV-2 only.”

In addition, the FDA posted on their website the CDC’s Real-Time RT-PCR Diagnostic Panel, dated that same day, which reported the tests do not necessarily work. It reads, “Positive results are indicative of active infection with SARS-CoV-2 but do not rule out bacterial infection or co-infection with other viruses. The agent detected may not be the definite cause of disease. Laboratories within the United States and its territories are required to report all results to the appropriate public health authorities. Negative results do not preclude SARS-CoV-2 infection and should not be used as the sole basis for treatment or other patient management decisions. Negative results must be combined with clinical observations, patient history, and epidemiological information.”

CDC 2019 Novel Coronavirus (nCoV) Real-Time RT-PCR Diagnostic Panel – Instructions for Use (fda.gov)

“The omicron variant is much more infectious than previous strains of COVID-19,” said Farnitano. “Boosting is necessary for the best protection from omicron infection and transmission. Our hospitals are at risk of being overwhelmed if a large number of our must vulnerable residents get sick. Our goal is to ramp up the protection around places where there is an elevated risk of exposure, and people who are at high risk of serious illness if they become infected.”

However, as previously reported, according to reports from throughout the U.S. and internationally, symptoms have been described as mild, and “extremely mild” by Dr. Angelique Coetzee, the South African doctor who first discovered and announced the new strain.

The order requires applicable workers to test weekly for COVID-19 and provide the results to their employers, or if fully vaccinated, provide proof that they have received a booster dose of COVID-19 vaccine within one month of becoming eligible. Employers are required to keep vaccination records for these employees.

Anyone 16 or older is eligible for a booster dose six months after they become fully vaccinated with the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines, or two months after they receive a dose of the Johnson & Johnson (Janssen) vaccine.

On Dec. 22, California added a similar statewide requirement for healthcare workers, home care workers, and employees of congregate care and detention facilities.

Omicron is already the dominant strain of COVID-19 in the U.S. The average daily number of newly detected COVID-19 cases in the county has risen about 156% in the past week with an average of 313 new cases per day, a trend expected to continue and potentially accelerate throughout California this winter.

Contra Costa identified the county’s first patients infected by this variant last week – two of the three initial cases were fully vaccinated, but none of them had received booster doses.

According to the Health Services announcement, about 36% of Contra Costa residents aged 16 and older have received a booster dose, which they claim reduces risk of infection from the omicron variant and dramatically reduces risk of serious illness, hospitalization or death from all variants of COVID-19.

Farnitano was asked specifics about his new health order including, “how many of the newly detected cases of COVID-19 in our county are from the omicron variant?” and “how many people who have been diagnosed with the omicron variant in our county been hospitalized?”

In addition, he was asked, “why mandate a COVID-19 vaccine booster dose for county first responders and workers in homeless shelters when both the vaccines and boosters are proving not to work, since people who have had both of them are still contracting COVID?”

Farnitano was also asked, isn’t this an unnecessary overreaction to the omicron variant, since the symptoms are being reported as mild.? He was then asked, with more than 1.3 million reported adverse reactions to the COVID-19 vaccines, why continue to mandate them and the boosters, putting first responders at risk, especially since the symptoms of the omicron variant are so mild?”

The unelected county health officer, whose orders can’t be overruled by the elected county supervisors, was asked, why he was including the PCR test as one of the mandate options when they have proven to give false reports and have been discontinued as of Dec. 31.

Finally, Farnitano was asked “are you not aware the FDA posted on their website the CDC’s Real-Time RT-PCR Diagnostic Panel dated that same day, which reported the tests do not necessarily work which is the reason the CDC discontinued their use?”

Dr. Farnitano didn’t respond. Instead, Will Harper, a spokesman for the county Health Services did, but he didn’t answer all the questions.

“Over the past two weeks, a growing number of lab samples in CoCo being sequenced are omicron,” Harper wrote in an email Wednesday afternoon. “We expect omicron to become the predominant variant in the county very soon. Check back in after the holidays.”

“Clearly, Omicron is extremely contagious as we see cases in Europe and parts of the U.S. spiking. While there are indications omicron is more mild than earlier strains, we don’t know that for sure. Even if it is milder, the sheer volume of cases from omicron could still have major impacts on our healthcare system,” he continued. “In Contra Costa, hospitalizations are up 39% from two weeks ago — a troubling sign, although still manageable right now.”

“The vaccines work — but we’re learning that their effectiveness wanes over time, which is why it’s so important for everyone ages 16 and older to get their booster shot, especially people in high-risk settings like first responders,” Harper added. “You can see on our vaccine dashboard that people who’ve gotten boosters have lower case rates.”

Additional questions were sent Wednesday night after work hours, asking, “but if the COVID vaccines wane in just months, while vaccines we received as kids, such as for smallpox, chickenpox and polio, etc. last a lifetime, how can anyone claim the COVID vaccines work? Or were they designed and developed with obsolescence so people would be required to get booster shots? What happens when the booster shots wane? Will people be required to get another, and another? When will it end?”

The text of the order is available at cchealth.org/coronavirus.

Please check back for any updates to this report.

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Antioch transient arrested for assault with deadly weapon, arson for starting fire off Hillcrest Ave. Wednesday evening

Thursday, October 14th, 2021

Firefighters clean up after the fire on the hill above Hillcrest Avenue near Wildhorse Road and the suspect arrested by Antioch Police, Wednesday evening, Oct. 13, 2021. Top photo by Allen Payton, Bottom two by APD

Several homes threatened

By Sergeant Michael Mellone, Antioch Police Field Services Bureau

Arson fire on Hillcrest Ave. hillside Oct. 13, 2021. Photo: APD

On October 13, 2021, at approximately 6:05 pm, APD patrol officers were dispatched to a homeless encampment located near the intersection of Hillcrest Avenue and Wild Horse Drive on report of an assault with a deadly weapon. While responding to the incident, officers learned the suspect (later identified as Brian Dean, age 40) struck the victim in the head with a metal pipe and then lit a rag on fire, tossing it into the victim’s encampment. The lit rag fully engulfed the encampment and spread to the adjacent hillside, threatening several homes on Spaulding Street. Firefighters from the Contra Costa County Fire Protection District responded and quickly extinguished the fire before it spread to the adjacent homes. An alert resident took a photograph of the suspect as he was fleeing on a distinctive bicycle and provided it to officers at the scene.

Con Fire trucks and crews responded to the scene. Photo: APD

At about 8:15 pm, Antioch Police Corporal James Colley spotted a matching individual on the distinctive bicycle crossing Hillcrest Avenue at Larkspur Drive. He was detained without incident and found to be in possession of an incendiary device. Officers placed Dean under arrest for three felonies, including assault with a deadly weapon, arson, and possession of an incendiary device – he was booked at the Contra Costa County Jail in Martinez. This fire was the second one at the same location in the last two days. The victim sustained minor injuries and was treated at the scene by paramedics.

Photo: Allen Payton

Photo: APD

The Antioch Police Department would like to thank the residents of Spaulding Street who assisted officers and firefighters with access to the scene, along with the alert resident who came forward with photographic evidence allowing us to locate the suspect. This incident is being jointly investigated by the Antioch Police Department and the Contra Costa County Fire Protection District Arson Investigator.

Anyone with information is asked to call the Antioch Police Department non-emergency line at (925) 778-2441. You may also text-a-tip to 274637 (CRIMES) using the key word ANTIOCH.

 

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PG&E disputes Shasta County criminal charges related to 2020 Zogg Fire

Saturday, September 25th, 2021

2020 Zogg Fire statistics. Source: CalFire

SAN FRANCISCO — PG&E Corporation shared the following statement from CEO Patti Poppe today, Friday, Sept. 24, 2021 regarding criminal charges filed by the Shasta County District Attorney’s office related to the September 2020 Zogg Fire. The utility company was charged with involuntary manslaughter in the deaths of four people, and other felonies and misdemeanors for the Zogg Fire and other fires that started in the county over the last year and a half.

“We are all devastated by the effects of wildfire here in California. My heart aches. I have seen firsthand how devastating it is and have spoken with many of those most harmed. These communities are the hometowns where my coworkers live and work, too. While I am new to this environment, I hope my heart never becomes hardened to the devastation that catastrophic wildfire can cause.

I came to PG&E to make it right and make it safe, which is a commitment that my 40,000 coworkers and contract partners all share. We’ve already resolved many victim claims arising from the Zogg Fire, along with the claims by the counties of Shasta and Tehama. And we are working hard to resolve the remaining claims.

We’ve accepted CAL FIRE’s determination, reached earlier this year, that a tree contacted our electric line and started the Zogg Fire. We accept that conclusion.  But we did not commit a crime.

Today’s climate and unprecedented drought have forever changed the relationship between trees and power lines. And please know we’re not sitting idly by. We have established a new standard for our lines and the vegetation near them because it poses such a real risk to our communities.

For example, on the Zogg Fire, the tree that started the fire is one of over 8 million trees within striking distance to our lines. Here are a few other facts.

Between October 2018 and last year’s Zogg Fire:

  • Two trained arborists walked this line and independent of one another determined the tree in question could stay.
  • We trimmed or removed over 5,000 trees on this very circuit alone.
  • This year we will remove 300,000 trees statewide.

This vital safety work is all done by real people who are trying every day to do the right thing. Trained, professional people – my PG&E coworkers and our extended contractor family. Arborists, specifically, are trained professionals and sometimes, just like doctors or architects, they can have professional differences. There will be debates about the facts around the tree that started the Zogg Fire. Professional debate in the service of doing what is right and continuously improving.

This was a tragedy, four people died. And my coworkers are working so hard to prevent fires and the catastrophic losses that come with them. They have dedicated their careers to it, criminalizing their judgment is not right. Failing to prevent this fire is not a crime.

Right now, PG&E is:

  • Investing more than $1.4 billion this year alone in vegetation management;
  • Removing 300,000 trees and trimming 1 million more;
  • We’re working toward burying 10,000 miles of power lines;
  • We’re installing remote and micro grids to eliminate the wires altogether; and
  • We’re reestablishing and building our system to a new standard of resilience that keeps our communities safe and powered as our climate continues to change around us.

We are seeing signs of progress. For example, even during this year, with extreme drought conditions, we have reduced our ignitions over 50%.

That is our best ever performance since we have been tracking this and yet, we are still dissatisfied. That’s why we are not going to stop there.

We’re putting everything we’ve got into preventing wildfires and reducing the risk. Though it may feel satisfying for the company of PG&E to be charged with a crime, what I know is the company of PG&E is people,  40,000 people who get up every day to make it safe and to end catastrophic wildfire and tragedies like this.

Let’s be clear, my coworkers are not criminals.  We welcome our day in court so people can learn just that.”

Poppe’s statement is also available on PG&E Currents and broadcast quality video is available here.

Details about PG&E’s efforts to further reduce the growing wildfire risk, harden its systems, and use new technologies to help keep its communities safe can be found in the company’s 2021 Wildfire Mitigation Plan.

About PG&E Corporation

PG&E Corporation (NYSE: PCG) is the parent company of Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E or the “Utility”), a combined natural gas and electric utility serving more than 16 million people across 70,000 square miles in Northern and Central California. For more information, visit pgecorp.com.

Forward-Looking Statements

This news release contains forward-looking statements that are not historical facts, including statements about the beliefs, expectations, estimates, future plans and strategies of PG&E Corporation and the Utility, including but not limited to the criminal charges filed in connection with the 2020 Zogg fire and the Utility’s vegetation management and system hardening efforts. These statements are based on current expectations and assumptions, which management believes are reasonable, and on information currently available to management, but are necessarily subject to various risks and uncertainties. In addition to the risk that these assumptions prove to be inaccurate, factors that could cause actual results to differ materially from those contemplated by the forward-looking statements include factors disclosed in PG&E Corporation and the Utility’s joint annual report on Form 10-K for the year ended December 31, 2020, their most recent quarterly report on Form 10-Q for the quarter ended June 30, 2021, and other reports filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission, which are available on PG&E Corporation’s website at pgecorp.com and on the SEC website at www.sec.gov. PG&E Corporation and the Utility undertake no obligation to publicly update or revise any forward-looking statements, whether due to new information, future events or otherwise, except to the extent required by law.

Allen Payton contributed to this report.

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