Investigators Probing Fateful Dixie Fire Drone Flight

The Butte County district attorney is investigating whether a drone that reportedly interfered with firefighting aircraft in the crucial first hours of the Dixie Fire was operated by PG&E or one of its contractors.

District Attorney Mike Ramsey says the drone’s incursion over the fire on July 13 may have prevented Cal Fire aircraft from stopping the blaze when it had burned an acre or two.

As of Tuesday, the Dixie Fire had consumed nearly a half million acres of northern Sierra Nevada forest and become the largest single-origin (non-complex) fire in modern California history.

Cal Fire and local prosecutors are investigating whether a PG&E power line touched off the fire, which began four weeks ago near one of the utility’s hydroelectric dams on the North Fork of the Feather River.

Ramsey said Monday the company has reported that it had been operating drones over Plumas County the day the fire started, but not close to its ignition point near Cresta Dam. He added the company has been cooperating with his investigation.

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