Thursday, March 7, 2019 - 08:00

(TNS) — PG&E's "unsafe conduct" caused a gas explosion in San Bruno and several fatal Northern California wildfires, but a federal judge will allow PG&E to primarily focus on tree-trimming rather than be forced to launch a complete inspection of its power grid.

"The judge's actions don't really ensure the safety of the system," said Mike Danko, a Redwood City-based attorney who represents some Northern California wildfire victims. "I guess this is a first step towards safety."

Nevertheless, U.S. District Court Judge William Alsup, who is supervising PG&E's probation in the wake of its criminal conviction for felonies it committed before and after a deadly gas explosion in San Bruno, blamed PG&E's deficient safety efforts for causing both the San Bruno disasters and a string of lethal wildfires in Northern California in 2017 and 2018.

"The essence of the problem is that the offender's unsafe conduct led to a deadly pipeline explosion and to six felony convictions," U.S. District Court Judge William Alsup wrote in his order, referring to the San Bruno explosion that PG&E caused in 2010 that eventually resulted in being found guilty by a federal jury in 2016.

Referencing the role that PG&E's equipment played in the fatal wildfires of 2017 and 2018, Judge Alsup added, "Now, the offender's unsafe conduct has led to recurring deadly wildfires caused by its electrical system."

A series of infernos scorched the North Bay Wine Country and nearby regions in October 2017, and 13 months later in November 2018, a wildfire roared through Butte County and essentially destroyed the town of Paradise.

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