SDG&E Poised to Sue Fire Victims

San Diego Gas & Electric has notified attorneys working for victims of the Rice and Witch Creek fires that the company intends to sue some of the fire victims.

The California Public Utilities Commission released a report in September 2008 stating SDG&E and Cox Communications are responsible for sparking three of the huge wildfires that burned San Diego County in 2007.

Attorneys for fire victims involved in a class action lawsuit against the utility company released a statement Wednesday claiming the utility company is filing a countersuit to try and detract from their responsibility.

SDG&E feels homeowners are to blame for the spread of the fires because they “failed to maintain property in respect to brush clearance,” according to the countersuit. The draft of the complaint cites a number of local ordinances requiring homeowners to keep vegetation in check.

Fourteen fire victims are named in the draft complaint.

"We are hoping that SDG&E will show some compassion for the fire victims and withdraw this attack> It's unfair and it's wrong," said Jim Frantz who represents Kathy and Kenyon Clark and Michael Paul Downing.  

"They lost everything they owned, all the way down to their china, their family pictures, their pet rat and now they get sued by this corporation. It's wrong," said Frantz.

A spokesperson for SDG&E calls the legal move routine and a necessary part of their defense to the class action lawsuit.

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