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Bob McPhail 8:30 a.m., Aug. 17
San Diego Gas & Electric will pay $6.4 million to the federal government for damages in the 2007 Witch Creek Fire. The payment covers damage to federal land and federal firefighting costs. The company has paid huge sums for fire-related damage to private property and wants ratepayers, rather than shareholders of parent Sempra Energy, to cover costs of uninsured damage. That matter, which has sparked outrage in San Diego County, is still pending with the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC). "The settlement resolves the United States's claims for SDGE's responsibility for the fire that was caused the morning of the Oct. 21, 2007," says the U.S. Attorney's office. The key word is "responsibility." CPUC investigators blamed SDGE's negligence for the fire. The settlement, while small, appears to show that the federal government, too, believes that SDGE was responsible for sparking the blaze.