Cal Fire has determined the massive Dixie Fire that destroyed nearly one million acres across five counties last summer was caused by a tree hitting a PG&E power line.
Cal Fire has forwarded its findings to Butte county prosecutors.
The blaze tore through Butte, Plumas, Lassen, Shasta, and Tehama counties after it began during the afternoon of July 13, 2021.
“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,” according to a Cal Fire release. The final report was forwarded to the Butte County District Attorney, the release said.
The incident began earlier on July 13 when the downed tree, apparently suffering from rot, leaned onto a PG&E distribution line. That blew two fuses, but PG&E did not shut off the power on the rest of the line. It took several hours for a technician to arrive at the scene. By then the fire was already going.
Deputy District Attorney Marc Noel said his office is reviewing the report. “Obviously Cal Fire has determined the tree in question started the fire and now it’s our job to find out how and why that tree fell and whether PG&E is criminally at fault,” he said. Noel said Cal Fire’s referral suggests possible violations of law, but he declined to specify any of those findings.