San Diego

Calif Governor Signs Wildfire Bill to Pay Victims

California's governor has signed a law that creates a fund of up to $21 billion to pay victims of the state's devastating wildfires.

Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom signed Assembly Bill 1054 on Friday, one day after the state legislature passed it. Half of the money will come from customers. Utility companies have the option of kicking in another $10.5 billion for a total of $21 billion.

But before utilities can use the money to pay claims, they will have to spend at least $5 billion combined on safety improvements.

NBC 7 spoke with Ken Daubach an East County Fire Safe Council Member and a former volunteer firefighter. He works tirelessly to prevent wildfires like clearing brush hoping utilities like SDG&E are responsible as well.

“They just need to find a way to prevent versus blame,” said Daubach.

Daubach said he’s not a fan of the new law signed by Gov. Gavin Newsom.

“Get their properties cleared and safe versus saying, ‘We’ll come in after a disaster and help you out.’ Help them out before the disaster,” Daubach said.

San Diego's utility company SDG&E applauded the bill's passage.

"California is better positioned to address the growing costs and liabilities associated with increasingly catastrophic and frequent wildfires, thanks to recent actions by the California Legislature, and Gov. Gavin Newsom," a statement from the company read in part.

Newsom pushed back against critics who said the bill was passed too quickly without enough time for lawmakers and advocates to review it. He said lawmakers will return in August to take up other wildfire prevention measures.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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