California – McKinney fire last month killed four and destroyed hundreds of houses in Siskiyou County. The residents were left stranded out under the sky as they watched fire ripping apart their houses, their belongings, and literally their lives in front of them.
To add more misery to their suffering, the Pacific power company sent them utility bills to be settled as soon as possible.
One of the fire victims, Matt Howe, reminisces the fire stating “it looked like something out of a war scene. It was just all piles of ashes burnt and melted. It was pretty apparent that there was no time left.”
The family made it out of the burning house safe and sound but could not save their pets. Their four cats and their dogs couldn’t escape the flames as the five-acre property burnt into ashes in front of them.
Matt Howe and other victims of the McKinney fire received utility bills which were not compensated at all.
Howe stated “I stopped by the Post Office and that was on top of the stack of mail – the bill from Pacific Power. You’re asking us to settle up with you when we’re at our lowest point right now.”
Matt Howe has an outstanding bill of $600 which has not been compensated despite his numerous calls to PacifiCorp which is the parent company of Pacific Power.
Pacific Power is still battling a lawsuit that has accused the utility company of causing the horrific fire. The lawsuit states that the equipment of the power company was responsible for the eruption of this file which went uncontrollable. The cause of the fire is still being investigated.
Amanda LoCurto is representing the victims of the fire and announced that as many as 300 people who were affected by the McKinney fire have received the utility bills. Almost four dozen of the people affected have lost their livelihood and homes
“I think what it shows is an incredible lack of understanding, sympathy, and tact,” said LoCurto. “In my view, Pacific Power owes the fire victims money – not the other way around.”
PacifiCorp has responded to this current situation by releasing an official statement that says, “we’re working to help customers affected by fires get back on their feet…Residents of Siskiyou County now have access to billing and payment relief in a variety of forms. We’re in the process of communicating these new options to customers, who can find the most up-to-date information by calling our customer care team.”
But in response to the letter, Matt Howe stated, “the letter was dated a week after my home burned down,” Howe said. “It was informing me of all the precautionary measures they were taking and that there might be future power outages to a house that no longer exists.” PacifiCorp provided a list of protections that the company offered to the victims of the wildfire that included prorating the electricity’s monthly charges. Discontinuation of the bill and implementation of a payment plan but did not waive off the outstanding bill.