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Cal Fire investigators point to tree hitting PG&E power lines as cause of Dixie Fire

Cal Fire has determined that the Dixie Fire was caused by a tree hitting electrical distribution lines owned and operated by Pacific Gas and Electric.

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Cal Fire has announced what they believed sparked the Dixie Fire that rampaged across Butte, Plumas, Lassen, Shasta, and Tehama counties.

According to a press release from Cal Fire, "the Dixie Fire was caused by a tree contacting electrical distribution lines owned and operated by Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E) located west of Cresta Dam."

RELATED: Audio release of PG&E worker finding powerline that started Dixie Fire

The fire was sparked on July 13 and burned over about 963,309 acres, destroyed 1,329 structures and damaged 95 additional structures. The Dixie Fire was the single-largest wildfire in state history.

Cal Fire said the investigative report has been forwarded to the Butte County District Attorney’s Office.  

PG&E already had said its equipment may have been involved and its facing legal action for other fires. In 2019 it pleaded guilty to 84 counts of involuntary manslaughter for a 2018 blaze that nearly destroyed the town of Paradise.

In response to inquiry from ABC10, PG&E provided the following statement.

As we shared in our public statement in Chico in July after the start of the Dixie Fire, a large tree struck one of our normally operating lines.  This tree was one of more than 8 million trees within strike distance to PG&E lines.  Taking a bold step forward, PG&E has committed to burying 10,000 miles of lines in addition to the mitigations included in PG&E’s 2021 Wildfire Mitigation Plan.

Regardless of today’s finding, we will continue to be tenacious in our efforts to stop fire ignitions from our equipment and to ensure that everyone and everything is always safe.

Read more ABC10:

Watch more ABC10: Dixie Fire: 844,000 acres burned, 52% contained | California Wildfires

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