- Nine survivors of the deadly 2020 Oregon wildfires on Tuesday were awarded $85M by a jury. The fires — one of the worst disasters in the state's history — claimed nine lives, burned over 1.8 square miles (4.8 sq km), and destroyed some 5K buildings.1
- PacifiCorp, the utility being forced to pay the award, said it expects to be responsible for a little less than $80M after post-verdict rulings and insurance payments.1
- The jury made its ruling after a 'mini-trial' that lasted around two weeks, the latest in a series of trials to determine compensation for about 5K victims of four 'megafires' — the Santiam-Beachie, Echo Mountain, South Obenchain, and '242' fires.2
- Previously, a jury in Multnomah County faulted PacifiCorp for the ignition and spread of the fires and awarded $90M to 17 survivors.2
- PacifiCorp, which said it plans to appeal this most recent award, could be facing billions in liability after upcoming trials conclude.3
- Narrative A, as provided by Wildfire Today. Regardless of its reasoning, PacifiCorp took the wrong approach to the 2020 fires, which were among the worst in Oregon's history. It was negligent when it didn't de-energize the power lines — even after it was warned by officials and emergency responders. Every penny PacifiCorp pays to the victims is justice being served.
- Narrative B, as provided by The Bulletin. Hopefully, PacifiCorp will not only compensate victims of the fires but also learn what it did wrong to avoid more damaging incidents. But it's going to take more than just the utility acting differently to limit wildfire damage in the face of climate change and the historic suppression of fire. The government must beef up its fire response teams and make sure they're on call all year round. Scapegoating a single utility provider without addressing the systemic issues is not a long-term solution.