Calif: Utility violations led to deadly Oct. fires

SAN DIEGO (AP) -- Improperly maintained utility lines are being blamed for three wildfires in California's San Diego County last October that killed two people and destroyed more than 1,300 homes.

The California Public Utilities Commission says the blazes were started because San Diego Gas & Electric and Cox Communications violated power line maintenance regulations.

Two of the fires began when utility wires touched in strong winds. The commission says a third ignited when a tree limb fell onto a power line.

The commission is also accusing the gas and electric company of failing to cooperate with investigators who were looking into the cause of the fires.

The utility denies that claim and says regulators lack the evidence to support the other allegations.

San Diego County plans to add Cox Communications to a 40-million-dollar lawsuit against the utility, which is also fighting lawsuits from more than 300 fire victims.

(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)


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