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5 counties affected by Dixie Fire file lawsuit against PG&E

Butte, Plumas, Lassen, Shasta and Tehama Counties filed a lawsuit on Oct. 20 in San Francisco Superior Court.

BUTTE COUNTY, Calif. — In addition to a pending criminal investigation and potential federal probation violations, Pacific Gas and Electric [PG&E] now faces another lawsuit in the massive Dixie Fire, which has been burning since early July.

Five California counties have filed a lawsuit against PG&E for injuries and damages caused by the Dixie Fire. Butte, Plumas, Lassen, Shasta and Tehama Counties filed the lawsuit on Oct. 20 in San Francisco Superior Court, which has heard the North Bay fire cases, Kincade Fire cases and Zogg Fire Cases.

The Dixie Fire started on July 13 in Butte County and has burned 963,309 acres. As of Oct. 20, the fire is 95% contained. It is the largest single fire in California history and the second-largest fire in the state behind the August Complex Fire.

The lawsuit asks for legal damages for injuries to public resources, natural resources, lost revenues, increased expenses, injuries to infrastructure and more.

“Butte County brings this action to recover public and natural resources lost because PG&E failed to manage and maintain its high voltage infrastructure,” Butte County Counsel Bruce Alpert. Board of Supervisors Chair Bill Connelly said in a statement. “Unfortunately as local elected officials, we have to again bring PG&E to task over a preventable fire.”

The lawsuit alleges PG&E equipment caused the Dixie Fire.

PG&E emerged from Chapter 11 Bankruptcy in July 2020 and was called into federal court by US District Judge William Alsup for questioning regarding the cause and origin of the Dixie Fire.

Credit: US District Court
This image filed in PG&E's federal probation shows a Douglas Fire suspected of sparking the fire after falling on the company's power line. A federal judge is probing the company's nearly 10-hour response to an outage in the Feather River Canyon on July 13, the day the fire broke out.

"There's a tree on the line that started a fire," a PG&E worker told his dispatcher on July 13, the day the fire started. When he took questions Sept. 13 from Judge Alsup in San Francisco, the worker refused to stand by his comment.

The cause of the Dixie Fire is still under investigation, according to CalFire.

PG&E is the lone suspect in a pending criminal investigation of the Dixie Fire. That investigation is being led by the same prosecutors who convicted PG&E of 84 felony counts of manslaughter for starting the 2018 Camp Fire.

Other lawsuits against PG&E for the Dixie Fire were filed in September by lawyers for 200 people affected by the fire.

Wildfire Map

An updated map of the acreage of the Dixie Fire.

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