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PG&E has submitted an “Electric Incident Report” late on Sunday to the California Public Utility Commission (CPUC) which could indicate that the Dixie Fire may have been caused by the utility’s equipment. The report is available on PG&E’s website.
According to PG&E’s website, “Electric utilities must submit reports related to any incident where a utility’s facilities are involved and the incident results in property damage exceeding $50,000, a fatality or injuries requiring in-patient hospitalization, and/or significant media attention. The information provided in such reports is preliminary. Ignitions are reportable under D.14-02-015 when they involve self-propagating fire of material other than electrical and/or communication facilities; the fire traveled greater than one linear meter from the ignition point; and the utility has knowledge that the fire occurred.”
The Dixie Fire is currently mapped at 30,074 acres and remains 15% contained. 800 residences remain threatened in Butte and Plumas counties, according to CAL FIRE’s update.
PG&E Incident summary
Summary: On July 13, 2021 at approximately 0700 hours, PG&E’s outage system indicated that Cresta Dam off of Highway 70 in the Feather River Canyon lost power. The responding PG&E troubleman observed from a distance what he thought was a blown fuse on the PG&E Bucks Creek 1101 12kV Overhead Distribution Circuit uphill from his location. Due to the challenging terrain and road work resulting in a bridge closure, he was not able to reach the pole with the fuse until approximately 1640 hours. There he observed two of three fuses blown and what appeared to him to be a healthy green tree leaning into the Bucks Creek 1101 12 kV conductor, which was still intact and suspended on the poles. He also observed a fire on the ground near the base of the tree. The troubleman manually removed the third fuse and reported the fire, his supervisor called 9-1-1, and the 9-1-1 operator replied they were aware of the fire and responding. CAL FIRE air support arrived on scene by approximately 1730 hours and began dropping fire retardant and water. In response to a CAL FIRE request, PG&E deenergized another section of the Bucks Creek 1101 12 kV line. In a 2045 hours status report, the CAL FIRE website stated the fire was approximately 1-2 acres; later that evening CAL FIRE reported the fire had grown to 10-15 acres and ground resources had problems accessing the area. According to the CAL FIRE website as of July 18, 2021 at 2007 hours, the Dixie Fire has burned approximately 19,000 acres and is 15 percent contained. The fire has generally burned in remote wildlands, and CAL FIRE has reported no property damage and one injury (according to a news report, CAL FIRE stated a firefighter suffered minor injuries and was able to walk away). On July 18, 2021, CAL FIRE investigators collected the following PG&E equipment: portions of the Bucks Creek 1101 12 kV line, including conductor, jumpers, insulators, and fuse cutouts, as well as portions of the tree. PG&E submits this report in an abundance of caution given CAL FIRE’s collection of PG&E facilities in connection with its investigation. PG&E is cooperating with CAL FIRE’s investigation and is reporting this to the CPUC under the media criterion. This information is preliminary.
Dixie Fire current status as of this morning, per CAL FIRE
Mandatory evacuation orders have been issued in both Plumas and Butte counties.
High Lakes: Recreational area of Plumas County east of the Butte/Plumas County line Plumas/Butte County Line east to Twain, Includes both sides of Hwy 70 in the areas of Rock Creek, Storrie, Tobin, Belden, Caribou Rich Bar, and Twain. Meadow Valley & Bucks Lake: Bucks Lake Rd. at Snake Lake Rd. west to the Plumas/Butte County Line, including the area of Tollgate
Butte County: The communities of Jonesville and Philbrook areas.
Current threatened assets and infrastructure are described as follows by CAL FIRE:
Significant fire threat and potential devastation to the entire the communities of Phillbrook Lake, Jonesville, Bucks Lake and Meadow Valley. Currently threatened PG&E hydroelectric power facilities, transmission and distribution lines which produce and transport 765 Mega Watts for Northern California, Sacramento and San Francisco areas. The assessed value is well over 1 billion dollars.
Sierra Pacific Industries operates 45,000 acres of timber which are currently threatened and at risk with an assessed value of $157,500,000.
W.M. Beatty & Associates owns and maintains a 1600 acre genetically modified timber plot currently threatened and at risk in the Chips Creek area worth over $9,600,000.
Union Pacific Railroad owns and operates the railroad tracks in the fire area. The assessed value of the Union Pacific trestles at Coal Creek and Tobin are assessed at $15,000,000.
The Feather River Watershed includes critical habitat and watersheds for multiple species listed in the Endangered Species Act, including Northern Spotted Owl, Valley Elderberry Beetle, Chinook Salmon, Steelhead, Shasta Crayfish, Sierra Nevada Yellow-Legged Frog, and California Red-Legged Frog. There are also significant archaeological and historic sites, petroglyphs, and other sacred Native American places. The Pacific Crest Trail is a major recreation trail with sensitive qualities at risk.
Real-time updates on the fire can be found on our Dixie Fire incident page.