Dixie Fire – Sierra Nevada California
Our law firm represents Californians who have lost their homes in the 2021 Dixie Fire. As of late October 2021, the areas ravaged by the Dixie Fire are now creating deadly mudlides and other post-burn dangers. Our hearts go out to our friends, neighbors, and all first- and other responders facing this ongoing disaster.
Pacific Gas & Electric Co. reported to state regulators that a tree falling on PG&E power lines may have helped spark the massive Dixie Fire, the second largest wildfire in California history. Reports also emerged in June 2022 that PG&E had an “excessively delayed response” to the incident, a “damaged and decayed” 65-foot tall Douglas Fir tree falling onto a PG&E power line and causing the fire. The purported 10-hour delay allowed the fire to grow significantly to a point where immediate containment was no longer possible.
Experts say PG&E ignored apparent danger signs leading up to the Dixie Fire, and kept power flowing hours after a tree fell onto the line, where it eventually sparked the fire that is only the second in California history to have grown to a million acres.
The Dixie fire resumed its growth expanded northwards as it continued to burn across five California counties — Butte, Lassen, Plumas, Shasta, and Tehama. Including Susanville, tens of thousands of Californians live within a few miles of the expanding fire.
U.S. District Judge William Alsup has ordered the PG&E line worker who found damaged power equipment near the origin point of the Dixie fire has been ordered to appear in person at a San Francisco federal court hearing on September 13th. Judge Alsup indicated that he and attorneys would question the unnamed worker.
Earlier, on August 7, 2021, investigative reporter Brandon Ritteman posted the following:
Ritterman also noted in a subsequent posting that “Judge Alsup found that PG&E committed safety violations in the 2020 #ZoggFire, which killed four people,” noting in conclusion that “The #DixieFire is just the latest in a long list of criminal investigations (also convictions) against PG&E for causing big disasters.”
Lieff Cabraser continues to investigate this and other reports that Pacific Gas & Electric equipment was involved in the start of the big Dixie Fire burning in the Sierra Nevada. The Dixie Fire has ravaged the town of Greenville in Plumas County — “nearly a total loss” — leaving its historic main street in smoking piles of rubble, its buildings gutted by flame. Reports indicate up to 75% of the town’s structures may have been lost, including homes, businesses, and public buildings.
The fire has expanded to nearly 927,000 acres, burning over 11,000 homes and commercial buildings in Indian Falls as well as Greenville and Susanville, with over 26,000 additional structures and homes threatened, as well as Native American archaeological sites, public lands, and ranching operations. The Dixie fire’s size jumped significantly when it merged with the Fly Fire in the Lassen and Plumas national forests. More than 11,000 residents across Butte and Plumas counties have been ordered to evacuate thus far.
PG&E said in a report to the California Public Utilities Commission that a repairman responding to a circuit outage on July 13 spotted blown fuses in a conductor atop a pole, a tree leaning into the conductor, and fire at the base of the tree. PG&E has admitted that investigators with the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection have collected equipment from the location.
PG&E equipment has repeatedly been linked to major wildfires, including the 2018 fire that ravaged the town of Paradise and killed 85 people. Even this early in the Dixie Fire, publications like the San Francisco Chronicle are citing it as the breaking point in the fight to dismantle PG&E.
Just like the Camp Fire, PG&E’s failure to properly inspect its equipment almost certainly led to the Dixie Fire. The company just doesn’t seem to learn. It’s past time to ask ourselves whether PG&E even cares about safety or if it’s paying a swath of attorneys and running ads to give lip service to the public and its victims.
Lawsuits on Behalf of California Wildfire Victims
In Northern California, Lieff Cabraser represented victims of the North Bay and Camp Fires as creditors in the PG&E bankruptcy. We serve on the Trust Oversight Committee in litigation on behalf of thousands whose whose homes, businesses, and lives were devastated by the 2017-2018 Thomas Fire and mudslides and by the Woolsey Fire in late 2018. Lieff Cabraser partner Lexi Hazam serves as Co-Lead Counsel for Woolsey Fire victims, and as Co-Lead plaintiffs’ counsel with Lieff Cabraser partner Robert J. Nelson as to the Thomas Fire litigation. We are investigating a wide range of legal claims on behalf of those displaced, injured and otherwise affected by this latest series of fires.
Read more information about wildfires and the rights of fire victims.