A $105 million relief fund created by Pacific Gas and Electric Co. and its parent company, which will give cash to those who lost their homes in wildfires, is set to begin taking applications soon, according to attorneys for wildfire victims.
The fund is meant for urgent needs like housing assistance, after several fires that investigators said were sparked by the utility’s equipment ripped through northern parts of the state in 2017 and 2018.
People can register at www.norcalwildfireassistanceprogram.com for more information.
The fund is meant to provide help in the near term for victims who are struggling to get by, including those affected by the deadly Camp Fire. Those victims may be uninsured, need help with living costs or are currently without adequate shelter, PG&E has said.
The relief fund’s third-party administrator is expected to make the first payouts on Aug. 30, according to the Tort Claimants Committee, a group that represents wildfire victims suing the utility for damages.
“We are committed to resolving the claims of wildfire victims fairly and expeditiously as part of our reorganization,” PG&E spokeswoman Lynsey Paulo said. “We also recognize that there are victims of the 2017 and 2018 wildfires in immediate need. We feel strongly that the right thing to do is to help them now. ….. We expect the application process to open as early as this week once the eligibility criteria is filed with the court, as the court required.”
The money will help some fire victims in urgent situations, said Mike Carlson, a committee member whose winery burned in the 2017 Atlas Fire in Napa County.
“This fund is something that could begin to get them that help that they need,” he said on a call with reporters.
The committee in a news release urged victims not to confuse the relief fund with a separate process for filing a legal claim against the utility as part of its bankruptcy case. They have until Oct. 21 to fill out a claims form in the bankruptcy court asking the utility to pay up for property loss or emotional distress.
The government also offers financial assistance for wildfire victims, and a government lawyer has said agencies will work with the relief fund’s administrator to stop people from receiving duplicate benefits.