CALIFORNIA, USA — PG&E filed new images Monday showing a Douglas Fir tree appearing to lean in the direction of the power lines suspected of sparking the Dixie Fire, which is still burning and has become the biggest single fire in state history.
The degree of the lean is difficult to discern from the images, taken by drone during a 2019 inspection, but the tree's trunk appears to lean at more of an angle than the others around it toward the bare metal wires.
Photos released two weeks ago show the tree being held up by power lines after it is believed to have fallen over on the morning of July 13.
PG&E took most of the workday to reach the location and the company's worker unsuccessfully tried to put out the first flames of the Dixie Fire with a fire extinguisher and hand tool that evening, according to the company's statements to the federal judge supervising PG&E's probation for six felonies.
A separate photo shows signing on the tree's trunk.
Cal Fire and local prosecutors are investigating whether the tree should have been identified and removed.
PG&E told the court that the tree was not identified as a hazard in 2020 or early 2021, when the trees along the power line were last inspected
"PG&E’s records do not reflect that either inspection identified the Douglas Fir for work," PG&E's lawyers wrote.
The company pleaded guilty last summer to sparking the 2018 Camp Fire and to the felony manslaughter of 84 people.
The company has since been charged with multiple felonies and misdemeanors for starting the 2019 Kincade Fire in Sonoma and will face criminal charges in the deaths of four people in the 2020 Zogg Fire, according to Shasta County prosecutors.
The same probation judge found PG&E committed violations in causing the Zogg Fire, where the company had identified a tree leaning toward its power line and marked it for removal. Crews never followed up to cut it down.