State officials warned utilities prior to 2020 fires, court documents show

SALEM, Ore. – Newly-filed court documents show state officials warned multiple utilities about fire risks and encouraged them to shut down power lines before the 2020 Labor Day weekend fires.

According to The Oregonian/OregonLive, there was a meeting between state officials and several utilities. Victims of the wildfires claim PacifiCorp failed to safely operate and maintain infrastructure.

According to a deposition acquired by The Oregonian, the chief of fire protection for the Oregon Department of Forestry testified that he believed he and state officials made it clear to the utility that they could avoid potential fires by shutting down the lines.

Doug Grafe at ODF said it’s atypical for the state to organize a call telling utilities to de-energize their power lines.

He went on to say, “It wasn’t my authority to direct, but I prepared in that conversation, everybody, to understand the gravity of the situation and advised that more fires will occur from utilities. With the wind, there’s high potential for that to occur.”

The trial in the class action suit is set to start on April 24th.

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