PG&E was responsible for sparking at least some of the 2017 wildfires in Northern California, according to preliminary results from the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (Cal Fire). If the fires can be tied to the utility's actions, inaction or equipment, PG&E could be held liable for billions in property damage under a legal theory called "inverse condemnation." Under current law, claimants need not show that a utility was negligent.
The idea behind this strict liability rule is to place the burden on the party most likely to have been responsible and which is in the best position to cover the losses -- the utilities. Unfortunately, PG&E was apparently underinsured for the 2017 wildfires and claims it cannot withstand the probable losses, which are estimated at over $17 billion.