The Mosquito Fire ignited on September 6th, 2022, and burned 76,788 acres in Placer and El Dorado counties. It was California’s largest wildfire of the year, and over 3,700 firefighters were involved in the containment effort. More than 11,000 people were evacuated, 78 structures were destroyed, and at least 13 more structures were damaged. No deaths have been reported as a result of the Mosquito Fire.
The fire was declared 100% contained on October 22nd, 2022. CAL FIRE and the U.S. Forest Service have not determined an official cause of the fire, and the investigation is ongoing. A record-breaking heatwave, as well as nearing record low vegetation moisture levels were likely contributing factors, per an article from The Washington Post. Utility company PG&E also reported “electrical activity” close in time and proximity to the fire’s ignition site.
A statute of limitations is the deadline for filing a lawsuit. According to the California Judicial Branch, the statute of limitations for the following legal disputes in California are:
Personal injury: Two years from the injury. If the injury was not discovered right away, then it is 1 year from the date the injury was discovered.
Property damage: Three years from the date the damage occurred.
The Mosquito Fire was first reported around 6:00 pm on September 6th above the northern shore of Oxbow Reservoir close to Mosquito Ridge Road, near PG&E electrical infrastructure.
On September 8th, PG&E officials stated in their Safety Incident Report that “electrical activity” occurred close in location and time to the fire’s ignition, though the utility company noted they “observed no damage or abnormal conditions to the pole or [their] facilities near OxBow Reservoir,” nor did they observe a “down conductor in the area or any vegetation related issues.” The report also revealed that the U.S. Forest Service had placed caution tape around the base of a PG&E transmission pole.
On September 24th, 2022, the U.S. Forest Service notified PG&E of their criminal investigation into the Mosquito Fire, after initial assessment revealed the fire started near the company’s power line. Federal officials seized a transmission pole and attached equipment as part of the investigation, which is ongoing.
Two separate civil lawsuits were filed against PG&E in late September 2022 on behalf of property owners and residents who suffered property damages and other losses from the Mosquito Fire. The lawsuits allege that the fire ignited as a result of PG&E’s failure to safely maintain and operate their electrical equipment, and that the utility company should be held responsible for the fire. Singleton Schreiber and Frantz Law Group represent the plaintiffs in these ongoing lawsuits.
The Placer County Water Agency filed a lawsuit against PG&E in December 2022. According to the PCWA news release, the Mosquito Fire “damaged electricity transmission infrastructure and halted energy production along the Middle Fork American River Project.” This resulted in the company losing tens of millions of dollars in power sales alone, the suit claims, and the total amount of damages had yet to be determined at the time of filing.
Placer County, El Dorado County, El Dorado Water Agency, Georgetown Divide Public Utilities District, and Georgetown Divide Fire Protection District filed a joint lawsuit against PG&E in January 2023. The lawsuit alleges that the Mosquito Fire, which resulted in extensive harm to public and natural resources in El Dorado and Placer counties, originated and was caused by PG&E’s equipment.
“Placer County’s lawsuit seeks to recover taxpayer resources lost in the fire,” Placer County Counsel Karin Schwab said in a statement. “The lawsuit seeks to hold PG&E accountable and to help our community rebuild after this devastating fire.”
As per PG&E’s 2022 Form 10-K, filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission, the company estimates a $100 million deficit resulting from charges and claims linked to the Mosquito Fire.