SAN FRANCISCO, CA – U.S. District Judge William Alsup has given Pacific Gas and Electric one week to explain its role in the Dixie and Fly Fires, which have destroyed hundreds of thousands of acres across Northern California and has injured one firefighter.
According to a report PG&E gave the state on July 18, the Dixie fire may have been caused by a malfunction in one of their utility poles.
At around 7 a.m. on July 13, PG& E sent a troubleman to the Cresta Dam in Feather River Canyon because the automated outage system had indicated it had lost power.
When he arrived on the scene, the troubleman saw what he thought was a blown fuse on the PG&E Bucks Creek Overhead Distribution Circuit uphill from his location.
He was not able to reach the area where the pole with the fuse was until 4:40 p.m., due to road work and difficult terrain. Once he arrived, he saw that two of the three fuses were blown and that a tree was leaning onto the Bucks Creek conductor, which was intact and suspended on the poles. A fire had broken out at the base of the tree.
He removed the third fuse and reported the fire to his supervisor, who then called 911. The 911 operator said they were aware of the fire and were responding to it.
At around 5:30 CAL FIRE arrived and began battling the fire with water and fire retardant.
By 8:07 a.m. on July 18, the fire had burned 19,000 acres and was about 15 percent contained. A firefighter had suffered minor injuries fighting the blaze. As of August 7, the fire had grown to over 400,000 acres.
Judge Alsup has also asked PG&E for more details on the Fly Fire, which has merged with the Dixie Fire.
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