Two lawsuits have been filed on behalf of nearly 200 people alleging Pacific Gas and Electric caused the massive Dixie Fire which has burned nearly one million acres in five Northern California counties.
The lawsuits alleged the wildfire was sparked on July 13 following several blown fuses and PG&E equipment malfunctions off Highway 70 in the Feather River Canyon in Butte County. A power outage in the area was reported by PG&E's outage system at 7 a.m. that day, but a PG&E troubleman did not arrive at the scene until after 4 p.m.
According to the complaint, plaintiffs say they believe the Dixie Fire was caused by a Douglas Fir tree leaning into PG&E's high voltage distribution line, which the blown fuses were designed to protect. They allege that the fire happened because PG&E's infrastructure was constructed to pass electricity through exposed power lines in vegetated areas, and because the company was negligent in maintaining and operating its equipment and in keeping appropriate clearance from surrounding vegetation.
Although no formal findings have been reached, PG&E has acknowledged to regulators that a tree leaning into one of its power lines may have started the Dixie Fire now the second-largest in state history.