The Dixie Fire — now the second largest wildfire in California history — started on the morning of July 13. According to the electrical incident report from PG&E, the first sign of trouble was around 7 a.m. when “Cresta Dam off of Highway 70 in the Feather River Canyon lost power.” A PG&E troubleman later discovered a tree had fallen on a distribution line that provided power to the Cresta Dam. It seemed as if the tree’s contact with the line started a fire.
PG&E operates 63 hydroelectric facilities in Tier 2 and Tier 3 high fire threat areas, know as “HFTD’s.” Twenty-four of its facilities are in Tier 3, which is the highest fire risk zone possible. “The Rock Creek-Cresta Hydroelectric Project” consists of the Rock Creek and Cresta reservoirs, dams and powerhouses. Cresta is one of PG&E’s Tier 3 hydroelectric facilities. That means it should have been a top priority for enhanced wildfire mitigation inspections, especially in the run-up to fire season. Not to mention, Cresta’s facilities are located in the Feather River Canyon — the same region where the deadly 2018 Camp Fire started.