Lieff Cabraser Civil Justice Blog
Northern California Wine Country Fires

Investigation Into the Northern California Wine Country Fire Origins Continues

2017 Wine Country Wildfires

A series of fires in Northern California wine country have killed 43 people and seriously injured over 100. They have destroyed approximately 240,000 acres and close to 9,000 buildings, including thousands of homes as well as wineries, farms, hotels and restaurants, and retail businesses. Nearly 100,000 people have been displaced across Napa, Sonoma, and Lake counties, with many still unable to return home or without homes to return to. These fires are the most destructive in California history, and property and business losses are expected to be in the billions.

Out of our office in San Francisco, Lieff Cabraser has worked for 45 years to achieve significant and meaningful recoveries for individuals and businesses harmed by fires, toxic spills, and other environmental disasters. Early signs from these most recent fires point to the potential responsibility of PG&E, including reports from multiple locations of downed powerlines and exploding transformers as the fires were breaking out. The California Public Utilities Commission (PUC) and the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CalFire) have announced that they are investigating PG&E and ordered it to preserve evidence all available evidence relating to the fires.

Unfortunately, PG&E has a long history of being implicated in wildfires and has paid large fines, verdicts and settlements for injuries and losses relating to these fires. PG&E is an investor-owned electric utility with publicly traded stock overseen by the PUC. It has repeatedly been found to have failed to properly maintain trees near powerlines and/or to have failed to supervise subcontractors it hires to do such maintenance, and to have diverted funds for maintenance to profits. PG&E took $1.41 billion in profits for 2016, up 58.4 percent from its profits in 2015.

Lieff Cabraser: Securing Justice for Northern Californians Since 1972

Lieff Cabraser has a long history of successfully championing the rights of those injured or who have lost property and businesses as a result of fires and other environmental disasters. Several of Lieff Cabraser’s attorneys live in the affected communities. Over the last 45 years, we have assisted our clients in recovering over $118 billion in verdicts and settlements. Our firm helped lead litigation against BP over the 2010 Gulf of Mexico Deepwater Horizon oil rig explosion and oil spill, successfully representing property owners, business owners, wage earners, and other harmed parties. Lieff Cabraser was also appointed by the court to lead litigation on behalf of homeowners, businesses and employees who suffered economic injuries relating to 2015 Plains pipeline oil spill in Santa Barbara, and also helps lead two class action cases on behalf of homeowners and businesses who suffered losses from the 2015-2016 Porter Ranch gas leak in Southern California.

Lieff Cabraser served as Liaison and Lead Class Counsel in lawsuits relating to the 1991 Southern Pacific train car derailment and toxic pesticide spill over a 45-mile stretch of the Sacramento River, as Co-Liaison and Lead Class Counsel in coordinated litigation arising out of the 1993 release of a massive toxic sulfuric acid cloud which injured an estimated 50,000 residents of Richmond, California, and represented hundreds of property owners and businesses around Roane County, Tennessee that were harmed by the 2008 TVA/Kingston coal ash spill, the largest such spill in U.S. history.

If you have suffered losses from the Wine Country fires, whether injuries or property or business losses and would like to consult with a lawyer, please contact us at 415 956-1000 or use the form on this page to send us an email message.

State Senator Mike McGuire has partnered with the Redwood Credit Union and The Press Democrat to establish the North Bay Fire Relief Fund. 100% of all donations will benefit the relief efforts and the victims of these terrible fires.