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The Latest: Judge questions PG&E about California wildfire

November 27, 2018

CHICO, Calif. (AP) — The Latest on a massive wildfire in Northern California (all times local):

12:20 p.m.

A U.S. judge overseeing a criminal case involving Pacific Gas & Electric Co. is asking the utility to explain any role it may have played in a massive wildfire that destroyed a Northern California town.

Judge William Alsup in San Francisco directed PG&E in a court filing on Tuesday to respond to a series of questions about power line safety and wildfires.

Alsup is overseeing a 2016 jury verdict and subsequent sentence against PG&E stemming from a deadly natural gas pipeline explosion in the San Francisco Bay Area.

A judge last year ordered an independent monitor to oversee the safety of the company’s gas pipeline system and put the company on probation for five years.

Alsup said he wants to whether that sentence might be implicated if any wildfire were started by the reckless operation or maintenance of PG&E power lines.

A call to PG&E’s media line Tuesday was not immediately returned.

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10:10 a.m.

A businessman pained over the destruction to the town of Paradise caused by a deadly Northern California wildfire plans to give $1,000 each to students and staff members from the local high school.

Real estate developer and restaurant owner Bob Wilson plans Tuesday to hand out checks totaling $1.1 million to Paradise High School’s 980 students and 105 teachers and staff members in the nearby small city of Chico.

Wilson is from the San Diego area and says he thought of the donation after reading a Los Angeles Times story about the high school still standing with students scattered and separated from each other.

Wilson says high school was the only “truly carefree time” of his life and that learning about the students’ difficulties broke his heart.

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