Did PG&E start the 2nd largest fire in California History?

On Sunday, the Dixie Fire, a three-week-old blaze that has ravaged more than 463,000 acres and forced thousands of people from their homes, became the second-largest fire in California history. Eight people have been reported missing so far, and the mountain town of Greenville has been mostly destroyed.

Now, a federal judge wants to know whether Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E), the state’s largest utility company, played a role in starting the fire.

On late Friday night, US District Judge William Alsup, who oversees PG&E’s probation for its role in the San Bruno gas explosion in 2010, ordered the utility to provide inspection information on a tree that fell on a power line where the Dixie Fire started. He also asked the utility to disclose information about vegetation and equipment in the area…

PG&E, which was aware of the judge’s order, has indicated in electric incident reports filed to the California Public Utilities Commission that its equipment may have sparked the Dixie Fire, though no official cause has been determined…

Between 2014 and 2017 alone, PG&E disclosed that its equipment had caused more than 1,500 wildfires. The company has been linked to five of the most destructive fires in California’s history, including the most deadly, the Camp Fire, which state investigators concluded was caused by “electrical transmission lines owned and operated by Pacific Gas and Electricity (PG&E) located in the Pulga area.”

PG&E’s record of mediocrity has been an open book. The eyes of regulators and politicos alike have viewed this company’s history in action, year after year. What have they done? What have they ordered in the name of public safety, what actions required of PG&E?

7 thoughts on “Did PG&E start the 2nd largest fire in California History?

  1. Update says:

    “the Dixie Fire swelled to 489,287 acres Monday morning with containment at 21%.
    The blaze that’s 250 acres northeast of San Francisco is the second-largest wildfire on Cal Fire’s list of biggest blazes in California history. Only the August Complex that tore through an astonishing 1,032,648 acres last August, making it first, is bigger.
    But many are calling the Dixie Fire the state’s largest wildfire because the August Complex was a “complex fire,” meaning it was made up of multiple fires. There were 38 separate fires started by lightning strikes. The Dixie Fire is a single fire.” https://www.sfgate.com/california-wildfires/article/Dixie-Fire-single-largest-wildfire-California-16374534.php
    “Firefighters battling to keep the Dixie Fire from spreading east : It is closing in on half a million acres.” https://wildfiretoday.com/2021/08/10/firefighters-battling-to-keep-the-dixie-fire-from-spreading-east/ CAL FIRE reported at 7 p.m. Monday that it had burned at least 482,000 acres. However, later fixed wing and satellite imagery indicates it was still growing into the night.

  2. Big Ernie says:

    “We’re seeing truly frightening fire behavior, I don’t know how to overstate that. We have a lot of veteran firefighters who have served for 20, 30 years and have never seen behavior like this, especially day after day, and the conditions we’re in. So we really are in uncharted territory around some of these extreme, large fires and the behavior we’re seeing.” Plumas National Forest Supervisor Chris Carlton. https://www.cnn.com/2021/08/09/weather/weather-outlook-dixie-wildfires-hurricane-update-wxn/index.html
    Between August 4 and 5, the Dixie fire burned 44,000 acres.
    That’s equivalent of burning the entire city of Washington, DC, in less than 12 hours. No one could outrun that speed, so knowing exactly what the fire will do is the difference in life and death.
    “When fires seem to overtake the local weather conditions and create their own weather such as the pyrocumulus clouds, that is really a safety concern for everybody involved in that fire because we can no longer rely so much on the science or what we study with the weather patterns coming in.” Robyn Heffernan, a national fire weather science and dissemination meteorologist with the National Weather Service.
    Flammagenitus cloud: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flammagenitus_cloud

  3. Big Business says:

    “PG&E Wildfire Victims Still Unpaid as New California Fires Weigh on Company’s Stock : Compensation, partly funded by PG&E shares, trickles out to those who lost homes and businesses to fires sparked by the utility’s equipment” (WSJ) https://www.wsj.com/articles/pg-e-wildfire-victims-still-unpaid-as-new-california-fires-weigh-on-companys-stock-11628674201
    “Most fire victims are still waiting to be paid by PG&E’s Fire Victim Fund, investigation finds”
    (PBS July 25, 2021) https://www.pbs.org/newshour/show/most-fire-victims-are-still-waiting-to-be-paid-by-pges-fire-victim-fund-investigation-finds

  4. Update says:

    PG&E warned 39,000 Northern California customers Sunday night that it may intentionally shut off their power in coming days to reduce the risk of wildfire from energized power lines amid a wind event. https://www.sfgate.com/bayarea/article/PGE-power-shutoff-Northern-California-winds-16389644.php
    U.S. Forest Service is stretched to the limit battling blazes across the West (8/15/21) https://www.cnbc.com/2021/08/15/dixie-fire-and-more-big-blazes-threaten-thousands-of-homes-across-west.html
    The roughly 21,000 federal firefighters working on the ground is more than double the number of firefighters sent to contain forest fires at this time a year ago, said Anthony Scardina, a deputy forester for the agency’s Pacific Southwest region.
    More than 6,000 firefighters alone were battling the Dixie Fire, which has ravaged nearly 867 square miles (2,246 square kilometers) — an area the size of Tokyo. It was 31% contained on Sunday.
    More than 1,000 homes and businesses have been destroyed and nearly 15,000 structures were still under threat.

  5. Update says:

    [2:37 PM ET, Tue September 7, 2021]: The Dixie Fire in northern California is on its way to becoming the largest wildfire in the state’s history, officials say.
    It has burned 917,579 acres and was only 59% contained as of Tuesday. Currently, the largest fire by acreage for the state is the August Complex, which burned 1,032,648 acres in 2020.
    The Dixie Fire started on July 14 and has damaged or destroyed at least 1,282 structures, according to Cal Fire.
    Of the top 20 largest wildfires since 1932, 17 have occurred since 2000; 11 since 2016; five in 2020 — and three from this year. https://www.cnn.com/2021/09/07/weather/us-western-wildfires-tuesday/index.html
    p/s: “The hardest part of installing long hose lays in rugged terrain is hauling the hose, and it is usually uphill. When the plans called for 16,000 feet [3 miles] of hose to be installed on the Dixie Fire it just took two engine crews and some ingenuity to get it done.” https://wildfiretoday.com/2021/09/06/how-two-engine-crews-installed-a-16000-foot-hose-lay/
    Wildfire hose lays: https://www.fs.usda.gov/Internet/FSE_DOCUMENTS/stelprdb5405146.pdf

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