PG&E reaches $50-million settlement with Shasta County in 2020 Zogg fire

A house burns on Platina Road as the Zogg fire rages near Ono, Calif.
A house burns on Platina Road as the Zogg fire rages near Ono, Calif., on Sept. 27, 2020.
(Ethan Swope / Associated Press)

Pacific Gas & Electric Co. will pay $50 million in a legal settlement with Shasta County for its role in causing the 2020 Zogg fire, which tore through several rural Northern California communities, killing four people and burning more than 56,000 acres.

As part of the settlement agreement, which awaits final approval by a judge, criminal charges against PG&E that were filed by the Shasta County district attorney in 2021 will be dropped.

The charges, among them manslaughter and arson, were brought before Judge Bradley Boeckman in a February 2023 preliminary hearing, where he ruled most of the charges should proceed to trial. However, a motion filed by PG&E’s legal team caused the charges to be reviewed by a different judge, who issued a tentative ruling overturning Boeckman’s decision.


Despite that tentative ruling, Shasta County Dist. Atty. Stephanie A. Bridgett engaged in several weeks of negotiations with PG&E and secured the $50-million settlement.

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In an interview Wednesday, Bridgett said it was “frustrating and disappointing” that PG&E would not be held criminally liable, but she was glad to have gained additional funding for Shasta County with the settlement.

“I didn’t want to take a risk or gamble with the safety of the community,” Bridgett said. “I wanted to secure things that would be beneficial.”

The settlement includes $45 million earmarked for improving fire safety and emergency preparedness, including firefighter training, a large-animal evacuation center, the hiring of new arson investigators, and vegetation removal to reduce wildfire risk via the Shasta County Fire Prevention Council. The money will also pay for permanent memorials to the four people killed in the Zogg fire.

The settlement’s remaining $5 million will cover a civil penalty to Shasta County. As part of the stipulated judgment, PG&E cannot raise customer rates to cover the settlement costs.

The Zogg fire began on Sept. 27, 2020, after a damaged gray pine fell on a PG&E electric line along Zogg Mine Road. The fire burned 56,388 acres across southwestern Shasta County and northwestern Tehama County, destroying 204 structures before it was fully contained on Oct. 13, 2020.


Four people died in the fire: Karin King, 79; Alaina Mcleod, 45; Felya Mcleod, 8; and Kenneth Vossen, 52.

According to the Shasta County district attorney’s office, PG&E had in 2018 flagged the pine tree that later fell as hazardous and marked it for removal. Among its issues were a large cavity at the tree’s base and no uphill supporting roots, which caused it to lean toward the lines before falling.

In January 2019, a PG&E program manager warned the company’s vice president of electric operations that tree trunks were not being fully inspected on trees that could fall on power lines. Further inspections in 2019 and 2020 failed to result in the removal of the tree prior to its collapse.

April’s tentative ruling by Shasta County Superior Court Judge Daniel Flynn said the multiple inspections performed along Zogg Mine Road were in accordance with the standard of care maintained by PG&E.

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The settlement is the latest to be reached between PG&E and parties affected by wildfires.

Patti Poppe, chief executive of PG&E’s parent corporation, said in a statement that the settlement reflected the company’s commitment to improving fire safety in its service areas.

“I’m grateful that the Shasta County district attorney has agreed to work with us to make her community safer,” she said, “and we look forward to the relationship this agreement creates.”