CALIFORNIA, USA — Audio was released on Thursday of a PG&E telling the utility company's dispatch that he believes a tree falling onto a power line caused the Dixie Fire.
The audio comes from July 13 after a PG&E worker saw a fallen tree on the powerline. The worker told a federal judge that he refused to stand by his original answer.
"I'm not gonna deny that's probably what I said," said the worker. "I'm not a fire investigator," he said
Here is what could be heard on the newly released audio:
Worker: There's a tree on the line. Started a fire. Oh my goodness.
Dispatcher: Tree grew into the line or fell into the line?
Worker: No, it fell. It fell into the line.
Dispatcher: And that's what started the fire?
Worker: Correct. No, that started it.
Cal Fire and local prosecutors are investigating if the tree should have been identified and removed. PG&E told a federal court the tree was not identified as a hazard when the trees were last inspected.
The Dixie Fire is currently California's largest single wildfire in state history, which burned 963,309 acres. The August Complex is the current largest fire overall in California history, which burned 1,032,648 acres in 2020.
The Dixie Fire was fully contained in October after more than three months of destruction.
PG&E is on federal probation for six felonies after it committed the deadly 2010 San Bruno gas explosion. The utility company is linked to wildfires that killed at least 133 people while on probation.
PG&E admitted to 84 felony counts of involuntary manslaughter in 2020 for killing people in the 2018 Camp Fire.