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Napa County wildfires (copy)copy

The remains of the Signorello Estate winery smoldered on Oct. 10, 2017, two days after the eruption of the Atlas Fire. Victims of the 2017 wildfires have until Monday to file a claim with PG&E. 

A grassroots campaign of fire victims held a press conference on the two-year anniversary of the North Bay fires to bring awareness to fellow fire victims about the rapidly approaching deadline to file claims against PG&E.

More than half of fire victims have not filed claims. This group wants to let those thousands know they could be well compensated by PG&E, and they can file a claim for free and without an attorney by going to www.pgefireinfo.com" target="_blank">www.pgefireinfo.com.

Facing billions of dollars in liability claims for the 2017 North Bay fires and the 2018 Tubbs fire, PG&E filed for protective bankruptcy, effectively cutting in half the time fire victims would normally have to make claims against the utilities behemoth. The deadline for filing claims is now Oct. 21 by 5 p.m.

Claims are not limited to property damage and include lost income, loss of community, and emotional distress. Victims do not need to hire lawyers or know the monetary value of their claim before filing.

These details can be worked out after filing. Filing is free and requires little effort. Detailed instructions on how to file out the forms is available at www.pgefireinfo.com.

To date, too many have not started the claims process, according to those in the campaign. Many are holding back because of misinformation. This low participation rate could affect all fire victims, including those who file claims. Numbers count in the bankruptcy process. Eventually, a bankruptcy plan will be reached by the different creditor groups or may be subject to a vote of creditors.

Wildfire victims could be the largest creditor group and largest voting bloc, but only if more people to submit claims. Claims are not limited to those who lost their homes.

“If you ran out the door with virtually nothing, drove through smoke and flames, were shut out of your home for weeks only to return a burned-out wasteland, you have a claim for emotional distress,” said Helen Sedwick, a Glen Ellen area fire victim. “Chances are you had smoke damage, lost trees and landscaping, and property damage that was not covered fully by insurance.

If you were a renter or lived in a mobile home, you lost personal property and were almost certainly underinsured. You have a claim.”

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You can reach City Editor Kevin Courtney at kcourtney@napanews.com or at 707-256-2217.

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City Editor

Kevin has been city editor since September 2010. He joined the Register in 1973 as a reporter. He covered Napa City Hall and assorted other beats over the years. Kevin has been writing his Napa Journal column on Sundays since 1989.