PG&E says its equipment may have sparked 30,000-acre Dixie Fire in California

Pacific Gas & Electric Co. told a California watchdog its utility equipment may have been responsible for the 30,000-acre Dixie Fire. Photo courtesy InciWeb

Pacific Gas & Electric Co. told a California watchdog its utility equipment may have been responsible for the 30,000-acre Dixie Fire. Photo courtesy InciWeb

July 19 (UPI) — Pacific Gas & Electric Co. utility equipment may have sparked the 30,000-acre Dixie Fire burning in California, according to a report by the utility.

A PG&E employee responding to an outage on Tuesday where he observed a blown fuse at Cresta Dam in Butte County, according to a report submitted to the California Public Utilities Commission on Sunday.

Upon approaching the pole, the employee found two blown fuses and a tree leaning into a power lines conductor that remained intact and suspended along the poles with a fire at the base of the tree.

The employee removed a third fuse that had not yet blown and reported the fire, as his supervisor called 911.

Firefighters responded to the scene in an attempt to combat the blaze but it rapidly grew, burning 30,074 acres at 15% containment as of Monday, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.

PG&E spokesman Matt Nauman said in a statement Monday that the utility is cooperating with Cal Fire’s investigation into the blaze.

“The information PG&E submitted is preliminary and the company submitted this report in an abundance of caution given Cal Fire’s collection of PG&E facilities in connection with its investigation,” he said.

In 2019, the California Public Utilities Commission found that PG&E failed to properly inspect and maintain its high-voltage Caribou-Palermo power line that malfunctioned causing the 153,000-acre Camp Fire which ultimately killed 85 people and destroyed nearly 19,000 buildings.

The utility reached an $11 billion settlement with insurance companies after its power infrastructure was found to be the cause of many of the deadly wildfires that burned in the state in 2017 and 2018.

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