By Michael Hernandez
WASHINGTON (AA) - Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E) announced Monday it will plead guilty to 84 counts of involuntary manslaughter for each of the confirmed fatalities caused by California's Camp Fire, the state's most destructive wildfire.
The utility company said it will also plead guilty to one count of unlawfully starting a fire.
As part of its plea deal PG&E will pay $4 million in fines, and has agreed to restore water to residents whose access was lost when the Camp Fire destroyed a nearby canal, the company said in a statement.
California officials have determined the Camp Fire, which killed 84 people and burned more than 150,000 acres, was sparked by the company's downed power lines in Butte County. One other individual is still missing, and towns that were destroyed or damaged are still rebuilding.
"Our equipment started the fire. Those are the facts, and with this plea agreement we accept responsibility for our role in the fire," PG&E President Bill Johnson said in a statement. "We cannot change the devastation or ever forget the loss of life that occurred. All of us at PG&E deeply regret this tragedy and the company's part in it."
The deal must still be agreed to by the Butte County Superior Court and the Bankruptcy Court.
The company filed for bankruptcy in 2018 amid a deluge of lawsuits from individuals and businesses who were affected by the inferno, and another the year prior.
PG&E reached an $11 billion settlement agreement in September tied to the 2017 and 2018 wildfires.