In some cases, wildfires can be caused by problems with utility company equipment, such as power lines or overheated equipment. In other cases, controlled burns can quickly get out of control, threatening the property and safety of people who live nearby. Finally, human error, such as leaving a campfire burning or tossing a lit cigarette butt can cause massive fire devastation.
Damage linked to wildfires include extensive property damage, personal injury and, in some cases, death.
In San Diego on June 12, 2012, a $27 million settlement was reached between San Diego Gas & Electric and the City of San Diego in a lawsuit concerning two 2007 wildfires. The fires, known as the Witch Creek and Guejito fires, resulted in more than 1,300 homes being destroyed and two deaths. Ranches and farms were also destroyed. Meanwhile, San Diego Gas & Electric is settling personal claims related to the fires. So far, the utility has settled claims for around $1.5 billion, but that number could grow to more than $2 billion. Investigators blamed the fire on the utility company's power lines.
In Salt Lake City, a lawsuit was filed by approximately 100 property owners against Rocky Mountain Power, alleging the utility company was responsible for one of Utah's largest wildfires, which started in June 2012. The fire caused damage to more than 50 cabins and houses and resulted in one death. According to the lawsuit, arcing between power transmission lines set off the fire.
Meanwhile, residents in Colorado are waiting to hear when they will receive compensation for a wildfire that damaged more than 20 homes and left three people dead. An insurance lawsuit has already been filed and must be completed before residents receive compensation. That wildfire, which happened earlier this year, was reportedly started when a controlled burn that was started by state firefighters got out of control.
In Texas, three victims of a wildfire filed a lawsuit against Bluebonnet Electric Cooperative, alleging the company is responsible for a fire that destroyed more than 1,500 homes and killed two people in August 2012.
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