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Butte County District Attorney Investigates Whether PG&E Played A Role In Starting The Dixie Fire

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Noah Berger
/
AP Photo
Smoke billows behind power lines as the Dixie Fire burns along Highway 70 in Plumas National Forest, Calif., on Friday, July 16, 2021.

The Butte County District Attorney’s Office says it reinstituted its “PG&E investigative team” July 13 after learning the utility’s equipment may have contributed to starting the Dixie Fire.

District Attorney Mike Ramsey says the team comprises two attorneys and about three investigators. It’s been working in tandem with Cal Fire investigators over the past week.

“Sunday, (the team) went up to collect equipment from the area where a tree had fallen into a 12,000-volt line, had blown out a couple of fuses and also charred the tree that had fallen into the line,” Ramsey said.

The Dixie Fire has burned nearly 60,000 acres in Butte and Plumas counties. It’s triggered evacuations, destroyed at least two structures, and threatened about 800 more.

It’s unclear whether criminal charges will be brought in connection with the fire.

The district attorney says it’s too early to say.

“It will depend on structures and personnel. That if either of those are injured, that will certainly up the potential punishment. And we just hope to God that that does not happen,” he said.

PG&E spokesperson Paul Moreno said in a statement that the utility is cooperating with Cal Fire’s investigation.