Information Regarding the Kincade Fire
The Kincade Fire was the largest wildfire of the 2019 California wildfire season, burning nearly 78,000 acres in Sonoma County in nearly two weeks. Although the cause of the fire is still currently under investigation, the scope of the fire and its impact on the residents cannot be ignored.
Details About the Kincade Fire
The Kincade Fire started in the evening on October 23, 2019 nearby Geyserville, an unincorporated community in Sonoma County, CA. Extreme winds and dry weather at the time fueled the wildfire, which grew to nearly 75,000 acres in just five days of burning. On November 6th, the fire was finally fully contained.
What is the Impact of the Kincade Fire?
In total, the Kincade Fire resulted in:
- 77,758 total acres burned
- Over 200,000 people evacuated
- 60 structures damaged – residential, commercial, and other
- 374 structured destroyed – residential, commercial, and other
- 4 confirmed injuries to fire personnel and civilian
- 0 fatalities
Thanks to the quick response of emergency personnel, there were no confirmed fatalities as a result of the Kincade Fire.
What Was the Cause of the Kincade Fire?
Although the cause of the Kincade Fire is currently still under investigation, Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E) reported that one of its transmission power lines had failed just moments before the fire started. In a filing with the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC), the utility company stated that it noticed an outage at the adjacent transmission tower just seven minutes before the Kincade Fire reportedly started. The CPUC is currently investigating PG&E’s role in the Kincade Fire – along with its role in other fires this season.
Who May Be Liable for the Kincade Fire?
If the CPUC conclusively finds that PG&E may have caused the Kincade Fire, they are fully liable for any damages and injuries that have occurred as a result. Interestingly, PG&E has made a string of questionable decisions that negatively impact Northern California residents overall. In an effort to prevent wildfires, they instituted planned power outages late last year, with more widespread outages this season. Through the Kincade Fire, PG&E cut off power to approximately 3 million residents in and around Sonoma County, leaving them without electricity for days.
Although PG&E has stated that these planned outages are strictly a preventive measure for residents’ safety, many detractors argue that PG&E has only done so to escape further liability for any wildfires. Additionally, residents allege that PG&E’s processes during these planned outages have been incredibly unprofessional, with a distinct lack of communication regarding the time, duration, and impact of these outages. In Sonoma County, for example, a planned outage also disabled multiple cell phone towers in the region, leaving residents without phone service on top of electricity.
The Potential Aftermath of the Kincade Fire
As Northern California transitions to a potentially rainy season, the Kincade Fire may have an impact on storms to the region. Wildfires transform an environment by:
- Burning any trees and plants, which provide ground support through roots
- Baking the ground to create a thin, hydrophobic layer that does not absorb water
- Placing a toxic layer of ash and other burned chemicals directly on top of the ground
As a result, heavy rainfall can cause mudslides, flash flooding, and the flow of toxic materials and debris into residential areas and homes. This can cause further strife and hardship for those who may have just been impacted by a wildfire.
Should I Contact an Attorney?
If you or a loved one has been impacted by the Kincade Fire, it is highly recommended to consult an attorney to discuss your situation. If a company such as PG&E is found liable for the wildfire, you may have a right to seek compensation for any damages as a result of the fire. Retaining the services of an attorney who has already had experience litigating wildfire claims can help you recover the compensation you deserve for the pain and suffering you may have experienced.
Even if PG&E was not found as a conclusive cause for the Kincade Fire, their role in the planned outages shortly following the beginning of the fire may be grounds enough to warrant legal action as well. If they were negligent in effectively communicating the nature of the outages, and it resulted in some negative action or impact on your part, you may be eligible for compensation.