PG&E says their equipment may have started the Dixie Fire

The fire has burned more than 30,000 acres 25 miles north of Oroville, California

4:08 p.m. PDT July 19, 2021

Dixie Fire 3-D map
Dixie Fire 3-D map July 18, 2021.

In a report to the California Public Utilities Commission, Pacific Gas and Electric explains that on July 13 the company’s equipment may have ignited the Dixie Fire which has burned more than 30,000 acres along Highway 70. The fire is 25 miles north of Oroville. It has burned over or around the communities of Dixie, Merlin, Rock Creek, Storrie, Tobin, and Belden. Remarkably, CAL FIRE has not reported any burned structures, but says 810 are threatened.

PG&E said that at 7 a.m. on July 13 their system detected a loss of power in Feather River Canyon. From a distance their troubleman could see what looked like a blown fuse on a 12 kV power line. Because of challenging terrain and a closed bridge, the report said, another 9 hours and 40 minutes elapsed before he could access the site. He found that two fuses were blown and a live tree was leaning onto the power line. There was a fire on the ground near the base of the tree.

(To see all articles on Wildfire Today about the Dixie Fire, including the most recent, click HERE.)

At that time the company called 911 to report the fire. The operator said they were aware of the fire and units were responding.

The Dixie Fire has burned 14 miles northeast through Feather River Canyon and stretches 5 miles northwest from the river.

Map of the Dixie Fire
Map of the Dixie Fire. The white line was the perimeter July 18. The red dots represent heat detected by a satellite at 3:54 a.m. PDT July 19, 2021.

The fire was very active Saturday and Sunday moving to the east and north, becoming well established on the southeast side of the Feather River, mirroring what was happening on the other side of the canyon.

Firefighters are constructing direct fire lines to stop the spread and are building indirect contingency lines to protect the communities at risk. Much of the fire is in steep terrain.

Evacuation orders are in effect for some areas in Plumas and Butte Counties. A map is available, and CAL FIRE has other evacuation information.

Dixie Fire
Dixie Fire as seen from Jarbo Gap, looking northeast at 4:04 p.m. PDT July 19, 2021.

Resources assigned to the Dixie Fire Monday morning included 54 hand crews, 17 helicopters, 110 engines, 29 dozers, and 19 water tenders for a total of 1,918 personnel.

Below is very impressive video of pyrocumulus (the white cloud) forming over the intensely burning Dixie Fire Sunday afternoon.

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Author: Bill Gabbert

After working full time in wildland fire for 33 years, he continues to learn, and strives to be a Student of Fire.

5 thoughts on “PG&E says their equipment may have started the Dixie Fire”

  1. One can put the company out of business and ask for impossible solutions that might take decades to accomplish.
    Underground wires can still start fires if they fail by the way and lightning can cause underground electrical failures.
    Most homes are still above ground… humans seem to like this set up.
    Point is that the electrical companies do what they can to prevent fires.
    Other point is that the very people who complain seem to like their coffee hot, toast cooked and lights and A/C working, as well as such little nice things like water and sewage works functioning.
    All this is powered by electricity, and one of the costs of this electricity (but by no means the only cost) is the overhead wires and risks they pose.
    Remember your electric car will go nowhere without these wires in place and working.

    Better to clear around wires and installations.
    Be careful personally with fire.
    Install faster alerting systems on overhead wiring systems so fire departments can respond quicker. Maybe in peak fire times a constant set of drone detectors flying over areas of high risk might help???

    Good luck with all this as we are going to need a lot of it.

  2. After the devastation of the Campfire why is PG&E Still in business? It seems like declaring bankruptcy is an easy way to get out of liability . Aren’t there laws to prevent this kind of situation from happening over and over again?

  3. Trying to get all of the lines underground would take decades at the least. What could / should have been done by now is clearing around lines. Also need to have a detection system in place that notifies CalFire immediately. Wonder how things would look now if CaFire had a 10 hour head start on the fire?


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