After California suffered through one of the worst wildfire seasons on record, a California utility has agreed to pay out $1 billion to 14 local governments in the state to help cover damages from wildfires started by its downed power lines.
The settlement offered by Pacific Gas & Electric would give more than half of the $1 billion to four governments that were affected by the 2018 Camp Fire that killed 85 people and destroyed thousands of homes in Northern California. At least $270 million would go directly to the Town of Paradise, which was nearly wiped out during the blaze. In residential areas of the city, 80 to 90 percent of the people who lived there lost their home. Another $47 million will go to the Paradise Park and Recreation District.
"The Town of Paradise will rebuild, and this is an important step towards our recovery," said Paradise Mayor Jody Jones. "On behalf of the Town, we hope to receive the money as soon as possible so we can put it towards rebuilding our infrastructure and providing those necessary services for community resiliency."
The Town of Paradise offered a statement in response to the settlement.
Paradise’s top priority is to rebuild its financial stability in order to serve the community. The settlement from PG&E will ensure a strong foundation from which to recover from the devastation of the Camp Fire. The Town’s financial future is critical to the recovery of our Community. The Town lost 90% of its property tax base and, virtually, all of its sales tax revenue. The settlement will help cover these losses while the Town works to re-establish its revenue base.
The remaining monies in the settlement will be divided between the County of Butte ($252 million and the County of Yuba ($12.5 million).
In May, Cal Fire investigators announced that PG&E was responsible for starting the Camp Fire. The fire burned over 153,000 acres and destroyed more than 18,000 structures before it was contained on November 25 after burning for 17 days. Eighty-five people died in the fire, making it the deadliest fire in California history.
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