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California firm agrees to pay USD 13.5 billion to wildfire victims

Washington D.C. , Dec 7 : California's Pacific Gas and Electric (PG and E) on Friday (local time) said that it has agreed to pay USD 13.5 billion to the victims of wildfires that had killed dozens of people and destroyed tens of thousands of homes across Northern California last year.

Faulty PG and E power lines were blamed for sparking last year's so-called Camp Fire in northern California -- the deadliest in the state's history -- that left 86 people dead. Only a federal bankruptcy judge needs to approve the accord now before it becomes final, The Washington Post reported.

"We are pleased that PG and E has finally admitted that the victims' losses exceed $13.5 billion and that PG and E is responsible for the victim's losses," said Robert Julian, a lawyer from the firm Baker Hostetler in San Francisco representing victims.

The massive settlement could compensate thousands of victims who have had to recover and rebuild after losing homes, businesses and loved ones in the blazes while prompting a bankruptcy for the San Francisco-based firm in the coming months that had put profit before safety.

"There have been many calls for PG and E to change in recent years," PG and E president Bill Johnson said in a statement Friday.

"PG and E's leadership team has heard those calls for change and we realize we need to do even more to be a different company now and in the future," the statement read.

PG and E has faced waves of criticism over its response to the string of wildfires that have ravaged the state in recent years.

The lawsuit filed by the victims of that fire alleged that PG and E equipment did cause the blaze, and the case was set to go to trial in January. But Friday's settlement, however, may put the litigation to rest.

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California firm agrees to pay USD 13.5 billion to wildfire victims

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