San Diego Gas and Electric Company has agreed to pay the state of California $14.8 million over three fires in 2007 that were caused by their power lines. Investigators determined that shoddy maintenance of the lines led to arcing, which started the Witch Creek, Guejito, and Rice Canyon fires that burned through the communities of Ramona, Fallbrook, Rancho Bernardo, Poway, and Rancho Santa Fe in October and November of 2007. The fires destroyed more than 1,300 homes, killed two people, and caused massive evacuations.
The California Public Utilities Commission approved the settlement on Thursday, as well as a $2 million settlement with Cox Communications. Investigators say one of Cox’s cables blew into a power line, starting the Guejito fire. Both companies say they are not at fault for the fires, but just wanted to get the charges out of the way.
The Commission accused SDG&E of obstructing their investigation of the cause of the fires. According to the San Diego Union, in the settlement the company admitted that it didn’t give investigators the information they asked for and didn’t let its workers talk to the investigators, as required by law.