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Territorial Dispatch

Chico to be Compensated for Response to Camp Fire

Nov 29, 2023 04:49PM ● By City of Chico News Release

CHICO, CA (MPG) - The City of Chico has been awarded $43 million from the Fire Victim Trust for damages as the hub for response and recovery for Paradise after the devastating 2018 Camp Fire. The compensation largely relates to the destruction of City roads by tens of thousands of first responder, FEMA, utility, debris removal, lumber, and construction trucks. Payments will be made according to Fire Victim Trust pro rata payment schedule. The City expects to receive approximately $21 million in December 2023, which reflects the current 60% pro rata payment amount being paid, as dictated by the Bankruptcy Court.

For many months after the Camp Fire, Chico served as base camp for CalFire, emergency responders, FEMA, the California Office of Emergency Services, the Town of Paradise, the Paradise EOC, the Paradise Unified School District, PG&E, the Red Cross, the Salvation Army, AT&T, Comcast, and several other private and public organizations. 

“This money will help Chico continue to support the residents of Chico and Paradise,” said Mark Sorensen, Chico’s City Manager. “As the center of response and recovery, we were proud to support Paradise and its residents during the most destructive wildfire in California’s history.”

“The Trust did an excellent job asking the hardest questions to understand the extent of the City’s unique public infrastructure damages,” said John Fiske, a Shareholder at Baron & Budd and outside counsel to the City of Chico. “We have been impressed by the due diligence of the Trust as it questioned and understood the City’s complex claims. We are thankful for the Trust as it continues to work through the remaining awards in one of the most sophisticated allocations in law today.”

The Fire Victim Trust engaged in extraordinary fact-finding efforts to understand the unique claims of the only municipal corporation with damages before the Trust.  JAMS Mediator Judge Jay Gandhi

(Ret.) mediated the technical damages between the City and the Trust, and Trustee Cathy Yanni personally oversaw the process and the compensation.

Recently, the Trust has supported other public entity claims, such as the Thermalito Sewer & Water District, which received an award of over $9 million for its legal damages caused by the Camp Fire. The rebuilding of Paradise requires compensation to the individual fire victims as well as those public organizations that serve and support the community, through roads, water, and other public infrastructure. 

The Trust has issued award determinations to over 99% of its claimants and is currently making pro rata payments of 60% totaling $10.74 billion, although an additional pro rata increase is expected in 2024.

The City of Chico was represented by its City Attorney John Lam, and its outside counsel John Fiske and Torri Sherlin of Baron & Budd, P.C. and Ed Diab and Rob Chambers of Diab Chambers, LLP.