Northern California Utility’s Link to Raging Dixie Fire

Pacific Gas & Electric — the Northern California utility responsible for the some of the state’s most devastating wildfires over the past four years — has said its equipment may also be responsible for the still-raging Dixie Fire, which is now the second-biggest wildfire in the history of the state.

The utility said in a July 18 filing that on the day the Dixie Fire started, its outage system detected that power went out at the Feather River Canyon’s Cresta Dam.

An employee thought he saw a blown fuse and was tasked with investigating, but "due to the challenging terrain and road work resulting in a bridge closure," did not reach the power pole until nine hours after the outage was detected.

Once he reached the power pole, he detected "two of three fuses blown and what appeared to him to be a healthy green tree leaning into" a conductor. He also noticed "a fire on the ground near the base of the tree," and Cal Fire responded by dropping water and retardant.

"The CAL FIRE website stated the fire was approximately 1-2 acres; later that evening CAL FIRE reported the fire had grown to 10-15 acres and ground resources had problems accessing the area," the report reads before providing acreage figures for the Dixie Fire and stating that the information is preliminary and that the investigation is ongoing.

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