FEMA aid is now available for Dixie Fire survivors.  Aid can include money for temporary housing, for repairs, and for certain personal properly losses.

Deadline for registering is October 15.

The catches:

  • By and large, FEMA helps only when the loss is uninsured or underinsured.  For example, if your insurer provides Alternative Living Expense coverage, FEMA will not provide money for temporary housing.
  • You will have to repay any benefits you receive from FEMA out of any settlement you receive from PG&E as part of a Dixie Fire Claim.

To apply:

  1. Visit DisasterAssistance.gov
  2. Download the FEMA App
  3. Call the FEMA Helpline at (800) 621-3362

You will need to provide FEMA with information concerning your insurance coverage and information concerning any denial of benefits.  You’ll hear from FEMA concerning your eligibility after you’ve completed the registration process.

I was covered for the Dixie Fire under the California FAIR Plan.  What now?

The good news is that FAIR Plan policies pay for the cash value of your dwelling, and the cash value of its contents.  But that’s about it.

  1. No rebuilding costs. Most FAIR Plan policies pay only for the dwelling’s actual cash value.  They don’t pay for the costs of replacing or rebuilding the home, which is almost always substantially more than its value.
  2. Limited relocation costs. Most FAIR Plan policies cover the cost of renting a place to live while you are out of your house, but only up to a dollar limit of 10% of your dwelling coverage, regardless of how long it takes to rebuild or replace your home. And while private fire insurance policies pay for “Additional Living Expenses” such as the costs extra mileage, pet boarding, meals, furniture rentals, and so on, FAIR Plan policies do not.

And of course, regardless of whether you have private insurance or a FAIR Plan policy, insurance won’t cover the costs of replacing trees that were burned, the true value of sentimental items that burned, income you may lose, or emotional trauma you may suffer.  To be made whole, you need to make a Dixie Fire claim against PG&E.

To make a claim against your FAIR Plan, it’s not enough to call your insurance broker.  You have to make a claim on the FAIR Plan website.  You’ll need your policy number.  Here’s the link:  Make a FAIR Plan claim.

The Dixie Fire is now the second largest wildfire in California history, at nearly 500,000 acres.   So far, it has destroyed more than 1000 structures, including 550 homes.  It has totally destroyed the town of Greenville.

Though the fire boundaries are huge, it’s unlikely that PG&E’s financial liability from the Dixie Fire will come close to its liability for the Camp or North Bay Fires.  Those fire burned more than 25,000 structures.

Estimates of the dollar amount of damages caused by the Dixie Fire thus far are hard to come by.  Guggenheim  Securities says that total damages may already exceed $1 Billion.  If that is true, and if PG&E must pay for all of it, then PG&E’s liability would exceed the limits of its private insurance.  To pay survivors’ claims,  PG&E would then have to draw from the state-sponsored wildfire insurance fund. Currently, there is $10 billion available in the fund for that purpose.  (The insurance fund is unrelated to the Fire Victims Trust Fund, which was set aside for the victims of the Camp, North Bay, and Butte Fires.)

Right now, then, there’s money to cover the Dixie losses.  The worry is that we’re still early in the fire season.  The Dixie Fire might not be the only drain on the state-sponsored fund.



PG&E now acknowledges that its equipment likely ignited the Dixie Fire.  In its July 18 report to state regulators, it admits that there was a power outage, that a troubleman went to investigate, that the troubleman saw a tree leaning against PG&E wires, that the troubleman saw blown fuses on the ground nearby, and that he also saw a fire starting near the base of the tree.

“The responding PG&E troubleman observed from a distance what he thought was a blown fuse on the PG&E Bucks Creek 1101 12kV Overhead Distribution Circuit uphill from his location. Due to the challenging terrain and road work resulting in a bridge closure, he was not able to reach the pole with the fuse until approximately 1640 hours. There he observed two of three fuses blown and what appeared to him to be a healthy green tree leaning into the Bucks Creek 1101 12 kV conductor, which was still intact and suspended on the poles. He also observed a fire on the ground near the base of the tree. The troubleman manually removed the third fuse and reported the fire, his supervisor called 9-1-1, and the 9-1-1 operator replied they were aware of the fire and responding. CAL FIRE air support arrived on scene by approximately 1730 hours and began dropping fire retardant and water.”

PG&E is supposed to keep trees trimmed at least 4 feet from its electrical lines to prevent just this sort of fire.  PG&E failed to do that.  It appears PG&E is liable for the Dixie Fire.

But can PG&E pay?  PG&E is now out of bankruptcy, so claims for damages will be made in state court directly against the “New PG&E,” not in federal bankruptcy court against the Fire Victims Trust.  According to PG&E recent filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, PG&E has approximately $300 million in insurance coverage for the Dixie Fire.  Fires that PG&E ignites after August 1 are covered by an additional $600 million:

“In April 2021, the Utility purchased approximately $268 million in wildfire liability insurance coverage for the period of April 13, 2021 to April 1, 2022, and approximately $32 million in wildfire liability reinsurance for the period of April 1, 2021 to April 1, 2022 at a cost of approximately $220 million. This coverage is in addition to approximately $11 million in existing wildfire reinsurance for the period of July 1, 2020 to July 1, 2021 and approximately $600 million in existing wildfire liability insurance purchased by the Utility in August 2020 for the period of August 1, 2020 to August 1, 2021. On August 1, 2021, the $600 million of existing wildfire liability coverage is scheduled to renew for the period of August 1, 2021 to August 1, 2022 at a cost of approximately $516 million pursuant to multi-year policy terms. The Utility’s wildfire liability insurance is subject to an initial self-insured retention of $60 million.”

Will PG&E’s ultimate liability for the Dixie Fire exceed the $300 million in available insurance coverage?  It’s too soon to tell.


KPIX5 asks Mike Danko about the criminal charges brought against PG&E for its role in the Kincade fire.  Danko explains that even if a jury renders a guilty verdict, no one at PG&E will go to jail.  It’s the civil justice system, not the criminal justice system, that compensates victims for their losses.


Kincade Fire and PG&E - Mike Danko Explains
Danko Explains What PG&E Indictment Means

KRONTV asks about the Cal Fire’s new report blaming PG&E for the Kincade Fire.  I talk the possibility of further criminal charges against PG&E and how Cal Fire’s findings may affect victims waiting to be compensated for the Butte, North Bay, and Camp Fires.

PG&E to blame for Kincade Fire
KRON4 Asks Mike Danko about Kincade Fire



CNBC asked me and Governor Newsom about PG&E’s future.

PG&E hopes to exit bankruptcy by June 30.  It’s plan calls for $13.5 billion to be set aside for its victims to make claims against.  The trouble is, if PG&E can’t get its planned approved by June 30, it will lose access to a $21 billion fund that will help protect its financial condition in the event of future wildfires.  If it can’t get access to the fund, its lenders and others who are providing support for the plan will back out of the deal.

The Governor dislikes PG&E’s plan and is talking about having the state take over PG&E.  If PG&E’s exit plan falls apart, how will victims be paid for their losses?

Watch online.

How will State takeover of PG&E affect wildfire victims?

What does the settlement mean?

The settlement is an agreed-upon plan for ending the bankruptcy. If the settlement is approved, PG&E will fund a trust for Wildfire victims and certain public entities, for $13.5 Billion.  All victims’ claims against PG&E will be converted to a claim against the trust fund.  PG&E will be allowed to exit bankruptcy and move forward with its business with no further liability to victims.  Each victim’s claim will satisfied solely through the trust that PG&E funded.

How much will each claimant get from the trust fund?

The settlement does not resolve any individual claim.  The amount each victim gets will depend on the victim’s specific loss and the proof that their lawyers provide in the legal proceedings that have, until now, been put on hold because of PG&E’s bankruptcy.

Is $13.5 Billion enough to pay everyone?

We don’t know yet because the claims filed to date have not yet been evaluated.  We do know, however, that far fewer wildfire victims have filed claims than was anticipated when negotiations began.  At this point, there is no reason to believe the fund will be insufficient.

Why  couldn’t we get more than $13.5 billion?

Our financial analysis concluded that this fund is the largest that PG&E could raise and survive as an ongoing business.  The alternative – forcing PG&E out of business and selling off its assets – is called a “liquidation.”  In a liquidation, PG&E’s other creditors would be paid first and victims would get less, if anything at all.  In short, allowing PG&E to stay in business provides to victims the most compensation.

I’ve heard half the fund is going to be in PG&E stock.  What good is stock in a bankrupt company?

The fund will take stock in the new company that emerges from bankruptcy.  The stock will be valued based on the new company’s assets and projected income stream.  We believe that the stock to be deposited into the trust will be fairly valued.

But don’t victims need cash?

No victim will be required to accept stock in settlement of his claim.  The trust will sell stock to pay claims in cash as required.  The stock is only a mechanism to fund the trust.

What needs to happen for the bankruptcy deal to be approved?

The governor must approve the plan.  To do so, he must satisfy himself that going forward PG&E will be economically viable and that it can operate safety.  The CPUC must approve the plan from a regulatory perspective.  The wildfire victims must approve it.  And the bankruptcy judge must approve the plan as not being unfair to PG&E’s other creditors. 

How long will it take for the plan to be approved and the trust funded?

We are hoping for March or April.

When will the victims be paid?

Once it is set up, each victim may proceed to trial against the fund, just as he or she could have against PG&E.  That process could be lengthy.  One aspect of the agreed upon plan, however, is that it will allow claimants to obtain expedited settlements so they don’t have to wait as long as a trial might take.  In fact, allowing victims a way to obtain cash settlements more quickly was a key term during the bankruptcy negotiations.  The procedures for quicker settlements has not yet been finalized.  We are hoping, however, that the first payments to claimants who use the expedited  (quicker) settlement procedures will be made in a matter of months after the plan is approved and the trust funded, rather than years as might be expected otherwise.