PG&E found responsible for yet another devastating fire

The California utility PG&E was found guilty of triggering yet another massive inferno. This time it was the Dixie wildfire, the second largest in the state’s history. Electrical distribution wires triggered the fire after being in contact with a tree, according to the results of an investigation completed by the state fire department Cal Fire yesterday.

The Dixie fire raged for more than three months last year, burning over 1,300 structures and killing one person. In its perhaps most traumatic episode, the fire tore through the city of Greenville one August evening – and grew explosively overnight. By morning, it had decimated most of the historic Gold Rush city. “We lost Greenville tonight,” Local Representative Doug LaMalfa (R-CA) said as he held back tears in a video posted on Facebook on August 5.

The scenes were reminiscent of the most devastating fire the state has seen to date, the campfire in 2018. Investigators pointed to PG&E power lines as the cause of this disaster. Camp Fire nearly wiped out the city of Paradise and nearby communities, killing 85 people and burning more than 18,800 buildings. In a Butte County lawsuit, PG&E ultimately pleaded guilty to 84 counts of involuntary manslaughter and another felony for unlawfully causing a fire.

Following the disaster that contributed to the utility’s filing for bankruptcy in 2019, PG&E began implementing preventative power outages when hot, dry conditions make landscapes ripe for fires. Although it aims to prevent flames, it has caused several problems for California residents – especially for health facilities and people who depend on medical equipment to be connected.

The company is still facing another charge of manslaughter after one of its distribution lines triggered the Zogg fire that killed four people in Northern California in September 2020.

Days after PG&E first revealed that its equipment could have triggered the Dixie fire last July, the company announced it plans to bury 10,000 miles of its power lines in another attempt to prevent more devastating flames. That project would seize about 10 percent of the supply’s distribution and transmission lines underground, away from trees and vegetation that could burn if they come in contact. However, many experts are in doubt as to whether the tool can handle it or that the benefits would outweigh the costs.

PG&E did not immediately return a request for comment from The edge on the results of the investigation into the cause of the Dixie fire. In a statement to New York Times, it said, “This tree was one of more than eight million trees within line distance to PG&E lines … Regardless of today’s finding, we will continue to persevere in our efforts to stop arson from our equipment and to ensure that everyone and everything is always safe. “

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