PG&E has been ordered to hand over drone footage after reporting blown fuses that may be linked to the devastating Dixie Fire

PG&E has been ordered to hand over drone footage after reporting blown fuses that may be linked to the devastating Dixie Fire
·3 min read
dixie fire
Flames from the Dixie Fire consume a home on Highway 89 south of Greenville in Plumas County, California. AP Photo/Noah Berger
  • PG&E reported equipment failures that may have been connected to California's Dixie Fire.

  • A worker found a fire at the base of a tree leaning onto power lines the day the fire started.

  • The Dixie Fire has devastated nearly half a million acres and is the state's second-worst wildfire.

  • See more stories on Insider's business page.

Pacific Gas & Electric Company (PG&E) has been ordered to release documentation after the company reported equipment issues that may have sparked the Dixie Fire, which is currently devastating parts of California, according to local reports.

The Dixie Fire started around 5:15 p.m. on July 13, near Cresta Dam in rural northeastern California, according to the US Forest Service.

According to the PG&E report, a worker responding to a power outage in the area earlier that day observed a fire burning at the base of a tree that was leaning against power lines.

Delayed report

PG&E did not file the incident report until July 18. According to the San Francisco Chronicle, the California Public Utilities Commission requires companies to file reports within two hours of the incident within working hours.

The company also filed a report connected to the Fly Fire, one of the smaller fires that merged with the Dixie Fire over the weekend of June 24. In that instance, PG&E noted that on July 22 in Las Plumas, a fallen tree was found on power lines amid the blaze. The company again waited days - in this case until August 2 - to submit the report.

A judge has now ordered PG&E to provide drone images of the tree connected to the fire and map out each fire the company is suspected of starting this wildfire season, the Chronicle reported.

The causes of the Dixie Fire and smaller, contributory fires are still being investigated and the company admitted no culpability, saying it submitted the report "in an abundance of caution."

A PG&E vehicle and worker in the foreground of a charred forest scene after the devastating Camp Fire of 2018.
A PG&E worker surveys a charred forest scene after the devastating Camp Fire of 2018. Terray Sylvester/Reuters

A historic fire season

PG&E has been conducting power shutoffs during the wildfire season in efforts to minimize the chance of blazes starting.

As of Sunday evening, the Dixie Fire had burned through nearly half a million acres, according to the Associated Press, including almost the entire town of Greenville, a historic Gold Rush-era town.

The Dixie Fire has become the second-largest fire in the state's history, the BBC reported. California Gov. Gavin Newsom attributed the state's tinderbox-like conditions to climate change on Saturday, the BBC reported.

Troubling past

The judge's order is the latest blot on the company's concerning record on fires. Since 2013, PG&E has caused more than 1,500 wildfires across the state, as Insider's Morgan McFall-Johnson reported. This includes the devastating Camp Fire wildfire that killed 85 people in Paradise, California, in 2018.

The company filed for bankruptcy a year later. Facing $30 billion in liabilities, it admitted involuntary manslaughter in 84 of the Paradise deaths and has restructured its board, The New York Times reported.

PG&E did not immediately respond to Insider's request for comment.

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