Attorneys for Northern California residents impacted by the Dixie Fire and Fly Fire filed a class action lawsuit in San Francisco Superior Court. The suit alleged that Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) caused the fire that produced airborne pollutants which will have long-lasting impacts to the residents’ health and well-being.
The lawsuit was filed on behalf of people living in Plumas, Butte, Lassen, Tehama, Shasta, Sierra, Nevada, Yuba, Placer, and El Dorado Counties at the time of the fires.
The Dixie Fire, ignited on July 13, 2021, and the Fly Fire, which began on July 22, 2021, merged and destroyed more than 960,000 acres and over 1,300 structures. This mega blaze is ranked as the second largest wildfire in the history of California. According to the complaint, wildfire smoke from the fire reached over 40,000 feet in the air, covering those communities with thick, heavy smoke for three months.
The lawsuit targets the substances found inside the wildfire smoke, which was a mixture of air pollutants, carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, nitrogen oxides, and other volatile compounds. As residents inhaled the toxic smoke, they were exposed to pollutants known to cause heart disease, lung disease, and increased respiratory morbidity, including respiratory infections, asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and even cancer.
At one point, the EPA’s Air Quality Index (AQI) scale reached a level of 834 in Plumas County. Readings below 100 are considered “healthy” AQI levels, and the 800+ score in Plumas was literally off the charts.
In early 2022, it was discovered the PG&E equipment was to blame for starting the Dixie Fire, and the lawsuit seeks to hold the utility giant accountable for the resulting damage done to the health of residents.
“The levels of particulate matter and other pollutants in the air these people were breathing is unimaginable,” said lead attorney Paul Starita, of Singleton Schreiber. “The substances they were inhaling breath after breath will continue to have long-term health impacts that will take years to fully realize. These people will show the aftereffects of PG&E’s failure to maintain their equipment over the next several decades, and we are seeking to hold the utility accountable for what they’ve done here.”
The case is Lara Wheeler and Julie Peterson, et al. v. PG&E Corporation, San Francisco Superior Court, Case No. CGC-23-607657. To read the complaint, click here.
About Singleton Schreiber
With over 200 employees and offices throughout the western United States, Singleton Schreiber has represented more than 12,000 victims of utility fires and has recovered approximately $2 billion in settlements and verdicts for its clients. The firm currently represents thousands of victims of the numerous fires in California, New Mexico, and Oregon. The firm's dedication to obtaining justice for those impacted by toxic conditions and environmental hazards sets it apart from other firms. The firm is also a premier personal injury firm, obtaining top results for clients, including more than $100 million in verdicts in 2022.