Sacramento, California: PG&E Corp’s shares plunged more than 18 per cent on Monday after sources said the California utility is exploring filing for bankruptcy protection as it fears a massive charge in the fourth quarter related to potential liabilities from wildfires.

The utility is considering the move for some or all of its businesses, Reuters reported on Friday, the same that California’s attorney general said the company could be prosecuted for murder, manslaughter or lesser criminal charges if investigators determine that “reckless operation” of its power equipment caused any of Northern California’s deadly wildfires in the past two years, including the fire that wiped out the Northern California town of Paradise.

The company is facing liabilities from between $24 billion to $30 billion, analysts estimate.

A bankruptcy filing is not certain, sources had told Reuters, adding that the company could receive financial help through legislation that would let it pass on to customers costs associated with fire liabilities.

But that is just a possibility, they said.