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PG&E equipment sparked 2019's Kincaid Fire, which prompted the largest evacuation in county history.
photo credit: Wikimedia Commons
Sonoma County is nearing a civil settlement with utility Pacific Gas & Electric over responsibility for 2019's Kincade Fire. In a Monday morning hearing, lawyers representing Sonoma County District Jill Ravitch told Judge Mark Urioste that progress was made toward settling the civil case Friday before another judge.
 
County attorneys then asked for dismissal of separate criminal charges against PG&E "with prejudice in the pursuit of justice." 
 
CalFire determined the Kincade Fire was sparked by abandoned-but-still-operational transmission lines the company left behind at the Geysers, a large geothermal field spanning Lake and Sonoma counties.
 
"CAL FIRE has determined that the Kincade Fire was caused by electrical transmission lines owned and operated by Pacific Gas and Electric located northeast of Geyserville. Tinder dry vegetation and strong winds combined with low humidity and warm temperatures contributed to extreme rates of fire spread," a CalFire release said in 2020. 
 
Sonoma County DA Jill Ravitch (right) celebrates last year's failed recall election.
photo credit: Marc Albert/KRCB
Ravitch had earlier filed criminal charges alleging that the impacts of heavy wildfire smoke on vulnerable local residents qualified as an environmental crime. The two felonies and 23 misdemeanors resulted from documented health impacts.
 
A copy of the county's proposed civil settlement was not immediately available.
 
An attorney representing wildfire survivors said he was extremely frustrated and questioned if Ravitch was ever serious about pursuing criminal charges.
 
This story will be updated.
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