SDG&E, City of San Diego Reach $27M Wildfire Settlement

Combined, the 2007 wildfires destroyed more than 1,300 homes, killed two people, burned ranches and farms

The City of San Diego and San Diego Gas & Electric have reached a $27 million settlement in a lawsuit that sought damages from two 2007 wildfires.

Investigators with the Public Utilities Commission concluded in 2009 that power lines caused the Witch Creek, Guejito and Rice Canyon fires.

The Witch Creek and Guejito fires, which were sparked October 21 and October 22 respectively, cost the City of San Diego millions in fire emergency response, loss of revenue from leases, damage to city-owned structures, the reservoir as well as ecological damage.

“This is a fair settlement of the City’s claims and avoids years of additional litigation, including a trial and appeals,” City Attorney Jan Goldsmith said in a prepared joint statement with SDG&E.

The settlement money has yet to be appropriated by the city. However, Councilwoman Marti Emerald said Tuesday night the dollars should be spent on new fire stations.

Emerald, who also chairs the city's Public Safety and Neighborhood Services Committee, noted last year's CityGate report in a memo to Mayor Jerry Sanders.

The report's authors identified 10 locations where firefighters should be and are not. Adding stations here would shave minutes off response times, it claimed.

“For the sake of public safety we must act on the Citygate Report so we can respond to daily emergencies within nationally acceptable time limits, and be better prepared for future disasters”, Emerald wrote to Sanders.

Emerald said $18 million of the settlement should fund new stations near Home Ave., Paradise Hills, College, Skyline, Encanto, Stresemann/Governor and Mission Valley.

San Diego County had previously settled with SDG&E, agreeing to $24.5 million in damages.

The county sued SDG&E listing costs including evacuation centers, damages to county-owned land and other county-response efforts.

Combined, the blazes destroyed more than 1,300 homes, killed two people, burned ranches and farms, and disrupted the lives of hundreds of thousands of people.

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