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Dixie Fire Sparked By Tree Contacting PG&E Equipment, Cal Fire Confirms

SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — Cal Fire on Tuesday announced that the Dixie Fire — the second-largest wildfire in California history — was caused by a tree coming into contact with Pacific Gas and Electric equipment.

"After a meticulous and thorough investigation, CAL FIRE has determined that 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," Cal Fire said in a news release.

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

The Dixie Fire burned a total of 963,309 acres across Butte, Plumas, Shasta, Lassen and Tehama counties over a three month span. It sparked in mid-July and was fully contained by late October — it was active for 103 days.

The five aforementioned counties filed a joint lawsuit in October against PG&E for the injuries and damaged caused by the fire. A preliminary report from PG&E in July acknowledged that its equipment may have been involved in the start of the Dixie Fire

According to that report, a PG&E troubleman reported on the morning of July 13 seeing what looked like a blown fuse at some equipment at the Bucks Creek 1101 12kV line after an outage at the Cresta Dam off Highway 70.

The troubleman wasn't able to reach the pole until early that afternoon. At that point, the worker found two of three fuses blown and a tree leaning into a conductor. A fire was also on the ground, near the base of the tree, according to the report.

The Dixie Fire became the largest non-complex fire in California history and, among all fires in state history, only sits behind the August Complex (of August 2020), which burned more than one million acres across seven counties.

One person died in the Dixie Fire. The blaze destroyed 1,329 structures, including homes, and damaged another 95, according to Cal Fire.

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