PG&E Corp. told a judge it has put into place new safety measures that would have resulted in power being cut to a utility line suspected of sparking the second-largest wildfire in California history.
The California utility giant said it changed safety settings on its equipment so electricity can be shut off more quickly in the case of a disturbance or fault on certain lines located in high-fire risk areas, according to a court filing submitted Friday. The move was made after the start of the Dixie Fire in July to help reduce the threat of major wildfires in California in light of the extreme drought conditions and dry vegetation, PG&E said.
U.S. District Judge William Alsup, who oversees the company’s criminal probation, has been probing the company’s role in the Dixie Fire and why it didn’t turn off power sooner to the line linked to the start of the blaze. It took a PG&E worker almost 10 hours after an initial report of an outage to discover flames near a tree that had fallen into a line.
Alsup questioned the worker, known as a troubleman, during a hearing Monday. The worker said he didn’t see signs of a fire or the fallen tree until he arrived at the scene, hours after he had been asked to respond to the power outage at the Cresta Dam, located in the Sierra Nevada mountains north of Sacramento.