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PG&E faces first lawsuits over massive Dixie Fire

With a criminal probe underway, a small army of lawyers is advertising to recruit clients from the fire's massive burn scar.

SACRAMENTO, Calif — In addition to a pending criminal investigation and potential federal probation violations, PG&E now faces lawsuits in the massive Dixie Fire, which is approaching 1 million acres in size after burning for two months.

Lawyers for 200 people affected by the Dixie Fire filed suits in California courts this week and a small army of lawyers is advertising to recruit clients from the fire's massive burn scar.

"The last thing we want is for people to be revictimized," Plumas County District Attorney David Hollister told public radio station KQED, cautioning victims not to feel rushed to sign agreements with any attorneys.

The Dixie Fire, which started in the same canyon as the deadly 2018 Camp Fire, has destroyed more than 1,000 buildings including the town of Greenville.

One firefighter died in the line of duty of an unspecified illness.

The federal judge supervising PG&E's criminal probation is probing the company's role in the Dixie Fire.

"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.

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.

On the witness stand Monday, the worker refused to stand by his comment.

The judge wanted to know why it took PG&E about ten hours to find the tree and shut off the power line suspected of starting the Dixie Fire.

The company had an outage report at 6:48 a.m. but didn't switch off the power line until after 4:40 p.m., according to the timeline of events it gave in responses to Judge William Alsup's questions.

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