Residents who lost everything in a horrific wildfire say energy bills are still being sent to their homes.
Four people were killed and hundreds of homes were damaged or destroyed in the McKinney fire in Siskiyou County, California, but still people are being charged money for their utilities.
Matt Howe was a victim of the fire damage, his five-acre home destroyed in the blaze.
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He told the New York Post: “It was pretty apparent that there was no time left.
“It looked like something out of a war scene. It was just all piles of ashes burnt and melted.”
The people in his family made it out safely but four of their cats and one of their dogs didn’t survive.
Their energy supplier sent bills through a week after they lost everything.
“I stopped by the Post Office and that was on top of the stack of mail – the bill from Pacific Power,” he said. “You’re asking us to settle up with you when we’re at our lowest point right now.”
He said that despite calling the supplier and asking for a reprieve, the firm was not budging on its demand for $600 (£515).
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Howe said that multiple calls to Pacific Power’s parent company PacifiCorp failed to do the trick.
There is currently a lawsuit in motion against the Oregon-based firm working to determine if the group’s equipment was involved in the cause of the McKinney fire. The official cause of the fire is under investigation.
Amanda LoCurto is a lawyer who represents the victims of wildfires – he said 300 people affected by the fire have received bills so far.
“I think what it shows is an incredible lack of understanding, sympathy and tact,” LoCurto said.
“In my view, Pacific Power owes the fire victims money – not the other way around.”
Part of a statement with PacifiCorp shared with the New York Post read: “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.”
However, Howe and others report receiving letters after the fire informing them of the measures the company is taking to help protect them against fires.
Howe said: “The letter was dated a week after my home burned down.
“It was informing me of all the precautionary measures they were taking and there might be future power outages to a house that no longer exists.”
The Daily Star has contacted Pacific Power California for comment.
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