PG&E Says Its Equipment May Have Started 30,000-Acre Wildfire in Butte County

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The Butte County District Attorney’s Office has joined Cal Fire’s probe into the still-raging Dixie Fire successful the Feather River Canyon – which began past week and has been preliminarily tied to a histrion leaning into a 12,000-volt PG&E organisation line, NBC Bay Area has learned.

"We’ve been connected the lawsuit since Tuesday (July 13), on with Cal Fire, to spot if there’s immoderate benignant of transgression enactment that mightiness beryllium involved," said Butte County District Attorney Mike Ramsey, whose bureau successfully prosecuted the inferior for the 2018 Camp occurrence that near 85 dormant and destroyed the municipality of Paradise.

"We person a histrion into a enactment and evidently trees shouldn’t spell into lines," Ramsey said. "The occurrence did commencement successful that wide area."

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Cal Fire and Butte County investigators seized grounds from the enactment connected Sunday nighttime arsenic good arsenic parts of the histrion that fell, Ramsey said.

"We are examining that, adjacent arsenic the occurrence rages up further," helium said, adding that investigators besides are "very interested" to find retired who was flying a drone "which caused Cal Fire to propulsion their resources backmost and whitethorn beryllium a large origin of the occurrence getting retired of control."

Late Sunday, PG&E separately filed a study with regulators describing the events connected the time of the July 13 fire, which began connected the Bucks Creek 1101 circuit adjacent the borderline of Plumas and Butte counties.

According to the regulatory filing, the archetypal motion of occupation came astatine astir 7 a.m. connected July 13, erstwhile PG&E’s strategy detected an outage astatine Cresta Dam successful the Feather River Canyon disconnected Highway 70.

According to the company’s regulatory filing, the responding technician saw "from a region what helium thought was a blown fuse" connected the enactment connected the elevation supra him, according to the filing, which does not specify what clip helium spotted the damage.

But owed to steep terrain and the closure of a captious entree span owed to roadwork, the technician didn’t get astatine the country until 4:40 p.m., the institution said. By then, helium saw grounds of 2 fuses having blown connected the adjacent rod and recovered a 3rd still-intact, fuse.

The PG&E troubleman besides saw "what appeared to him to beryllium a steadfast greenish histrion leaning" into the line, which was inactive intact, and a tiny occurrence astatine the base. He alerted supervisors, who called 911 and learned authorities were already en route.

Cal Fire arrived astatine 5:30 and began dropping occurrence retardant and h2o connected the fire, which continued to turn to 15 acres earlier exploding retired of control, PG&E noted successful its report.

In its study to regulators, PG&E confirmed Cal Fire had seized the wire, insulators and fuse evidence, arsenic good arsenic a parts of the tree.

"PG&E submits this study successful an abundance of caution fixed Cal Fire's postulation of PG&E facilities successful transportation with its investigation," the study says.

The company’s tree-line clearance efforts person been the extended absorption of a national justice overseeing its probation stemming from the 2010 San Bruno state explosion. The institution has agreed to see wherever trees are gangly capable to autumn onto powerfulness lines successful deciding wherever and erstwhile to unopen disconnected powerfulness to support nationalist safety.

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