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Flames and smokes are seen during the Zogg fire near the town of Igo in Shasta County, California, U.S., on Sunday, Sept. 27, 2020. Photo: Go Nakamura/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Pacific Gas & Electric has been charged with manslaughter and other crimes in connection with a Northern California wildfire last year killed four people and burned hundreds of homes, the Associated Press reports.

Why it matters: The utility company has faced hundreds of lawsuits and filed for bankruptcy protection in 2019, after it was discovered its equipment was responsible for several devastating fires, per AP.

  • PG&E pled guilty last year to 84 counts of involuntary manslaughter from a the 2018 Paradise wildfire started by neglected electrical grid. The fire was the deadliest blaze in a century, the AP notes.
  • The charges come as another fire in Redding, California – known as the Fawn Fire – has forced more than 2,500 people to evacuate their homes.

The big picture: PG&E was charged with 31 counts, including 11 felonies. Shasta County District Attorney Stephanie Bridgett said the company was "criminally liable" for last year's fire, per AP.

  • In March, state investigators found that the fire – known as the Zogg Fire – was sparked by a gray pine tree that fell onto a PG&E transmission line.

Go deeper

The startup that wants to disrupt big internet providers

Maura Losch/Axios

A new startup backed by funding from AOL founder Steve Case and Laurene Powell Jobs wants to break up broadband monopolies across the country.

Why it matters: Internet access has been crucial during the pandemic, but it's not ubiquitous, and it can be both slow and unaffordable in swaths of the country.

1 hour ago - World

Top general: China's hypersonic missile test "very close" to a "Sputnik moment"

Gen. Mark Milley. Photo: Rod Lamkey-Pool/Getty Images

Gen. Mark Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, warned Wednesday that China's test of a hypersonic missile is "very concerning" and "very close" to the kind of "Sputnik moment" that triggered the Space Race during the Cold War.

Why it matters: The comments by America's top uniformed general underscore the depths of U.S. concerns about China's rapid military expansion and development of advanced weaponry.

Climate reckoning for oil and gas CEOs

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Top executives from ExxonMobil, BP, Chevron and Shell will face a reckoning on Capitol Hill Thursday, as they're grilled on evidence that their companies knew for years that their products were driving climate change but chose to downplay or deny it.

Why it matters: The hearing before the House Oversight Committee will be the first time these executives have been brought together to provide sworn testimony regarding what they knew about the ties between their company's products and climate change, and when they knew it.