Victims of the 2017 and 2018 wildfires blamed on Pacific Gas and Electric Co. can expect preliminary cash payments of up $25,000 each this month.
The PG&E Fire Victim Trust, established to pay wildfire claims from the utility’s bankruptcy, announced late Monday it expects to send payment to eligible victims by Nov. 23.
The money will represent something of a down payment. All told, the trust expects to distribute $13.5 billion to as many as 80,000 victims of the 2017 wine country fires, including Napa County’s Atlas and Partrick fires, and the 2018 Camp Fire, which destroyed the Butte County town of Paradise. PG&E pleaded guilty to manslaughter charges in the Camp Fire, which killed 85 people. Funds will also be paid to victims of the 2015 Butte Fire.
“We have a crisis on our hands and must act immediately. Fire victims suffering from wildfire losses have had their misery compounded by this year’s devastating events,” retired Court of Appeal Justice John K. Trotter, who is overseeing the distributions, said in a prepared statement. “While we are working diligently to ensure everyone is compensated as soon as possible, we realize that implementing a plan to distribute a portion of funds in advance can make a real difference in families’ day-to-day lives.”
The wildfires drove PG&E into bankruptcy in early 2019, setting off an 18-month tussle that ended up with billions available to pay claims to victims and insurance companies. Victims must file claims by Dec. 31 with the trust’s website to be eligible for payment, even if they already filed a claim with the Bankruptcy Court.
“We’re going to review each claim on a case-by-case basis to make sure they qualify for the $25,000 payment,” trust administrator Cathy Yanni said.
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