If an investigation finds that PG&E recklessly operated and maintained power lines, the utility company could face murder, manslaughter or lesser charges in connection with recent deadly wildfires, the state's top prosecutor said Friday.
Attorney General Xavier Becerra submitted a brief to U.S. District Court Judge William Alsup outlining scenarios for PG&E's potential criminal liability in the Camp Fire and other blazes.
"If PG&E caused any of the fires, the investigation would have to extend into PG&E's operations, maintenance, and safety practices to determine whether criminal statutes were violated with the requisite mental intent," Becerra wrote.
Alsup is overseeing PG&E's probation on five violations in connection to the fatal San Bruno natural gas pipeline explosion in 2010.
Alsup has ordered PG&E to provide "an accurate and complete statement of the role, if any, of PG&E" in causing the Camp Fire in Butte County and other recent wildfires. PG&E has until Monday to respond.
Alsup took over post-trial matters in PG&E's criminal case, including probation supervision, after the trial judge, U.S. District Judge Thelton Henderson, retired last year.
One aspect of the utility's five-year probation term is a requirement not to commit any state, federal or local crimes.
In addition to directing PG&E to state whether it had a role in the recent wildfires, Alsup ordered the utility to say whether the no-crime requirement might be implicated if any wildfire was "started by reckless operation and maintenance of PG&E power lines."