California attorney general warns of price-gouging amid fires

Wildfire in Butte County has spread to more than 70,000 acres

California Attorney General Xavier Becerra is warning residents to be on the lookout for price gouging wake of the multiple wildfires in the state. The warning comes following acting Governor Gavin Newsom’s declaration of a state of emergency due to the dangerous blazes.

“Families in Los Angeles and Ventura Counties are in the midst of dealing with devastating wildfires,” Becerra said. “They should not have to worry about whether they’re being illegally cheated out of fair prices. Our state’s price gouging law protects people impacted by an emergency from illegal price gouging on housing, gas, food, and other essential supplies.”

Butte County, California is also dealing with a devastating wildfire that has claimed at least five lives and spread to 70,000 acres, more than tripling in size Friday. It’s only five percent contained.

Two separate fires are burning in Ventura County right now, at 14,000 acres and 6,000 acres, according to California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.

State law specifically prohibits charging a price that exceeds, by more than 10 percent, the price of an item prior to the declaration of a state emergency. It applies to food, emergency supplies, medical supplies, building materials and gasoline, as well as repair and reconstruction service, hotels and rental housing.

Violating the state’s price gouging statute is subject to criminal prosecution that can result up to one year in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.

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