PG&E Says Its Equipment May Have Started Dixie Fire

Pacific Gas and Electric, California’s largest utility, mentioned on Sunday that blown fuses on considered one of its utility poles might have sparked a hearth that has burned by 30,000 acres in Northern California.

The blaze, referred to as the Dixie Fire, has unfold by distant wilderness about 100 miles north of Sacramento, in an space near the burn scars of 2018’s devastating Camp Fire, which itself was attributable to PG&E tools failures.

The utility made the disclosure in a preliminary report filed with the California Public Utilities Commission. Matt Nauman, a PG&E spokesman, mentioned that the report was submitted “in an abundance of caution,” and that the utility was cooperating with a state investigation into the hearth’s origin.

PG&E has been linked to a few of California’s most harmful and deadliest wildfires. It pleaded responsible final yr to 84 counts of involuntary manslaughter in reference to the Camp Fire, which destroyed the city of Paradise.

In June, the utility reached a $12 million settlement with two Northern California counties after final yr’s Zogg Fire was decided to have been attributable to a pine tree contacting PG&E transmission traces. The 56,000-acre fireplace killed 4 individuals and destroyed greater than 200 buildings.

PG&E additionally faces legal prices for its function in igniting a 2019 wildfire that burned 120 sq. miles in Sonoma County, north of San Francisco. That blaze, known as the Kincade Fire, broken or destroyed greater than 400 buildings and critically injured six firefighters.

The utility emerged from chapter final summer season, inserting $5.four billion in money and 22.19 % of its inventory right into a belief for victims of wildfires attributable to the utility’s tools.

In its report on the potential ignition level of the Dixie Fire, PG&E mentioned that early final Tuesday morning, a utility employee noticed what he thought had been blown fuses atop a utility pole in a distant space. The employee couldn’t instantly attain the pole, it mentioned, “due to the challenging terrain and road work resulting in a bridge closure.”

When he lastly obtained there, about 10 hours later, he observed that a fireplace had began close to the bottom of a tree.

As of Monday, the Dixie Fire was 15 % contained, in response to the state’s fireplace company, Cal Fire, and evacuation orders had been in place for components of Plumas and Butte Counties, state officers mentioned. Lynne Tolmachoff, a Cal Fire spokeswoman, mentioned Monday that a full investigation of the hearth’s causes would take six months to 1 yr.