State investigators named power lines as the official cause of three major fires in San Diego County last month that caused two deaths and 46 injuries, the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection announced November 20. The department is continuing to investigate whether there were any violations by San Diego Gas & Electric of regulations on maintaining the lines and providing for proper vegetative clearances, said Jim Garrett, department battalion chief. \u201cWe will determine if we\u2019re going to pursue\u201d any legal avenues, he said, \u201ccivil or criminal.\u201d Should the department determine that SDG&E violated any applicable legal requirements, the department would refer its case to the California Attorney General for potential prosecution, explained Garrett. State law, he said, provides for reimbursement of fire-fighting costs by utilities when fires result from non-compliance with applicable standards. \u201cWe maintain and operate our system safely in compliance with strict standards,\u201d said Stephanie Donovan, SDG&E spokesperson. The company is cooperating with state fire investigators, she said, and believes it was in compliance with all applicable standards when the blazes broke out. However, Donovan said that given the extreme weather and extended drought in Southern California power lines can serve as a source of ignition. Accordingly, in a November 6 filing, SDG&E asked the California Public Utilities Commission to open a statewide review of how utilities can help protect against fires during dry and windy \u201cred flag\u201d weather conditions. Among the ideas, she said, are to change the way transmission lines are operated during those extreme conditions to reduce the capacity for sparking, to enhance vegetation clearance, and to modify design standards for new lines. The fires destroyed 1,898 structures, burned 207,462 acres, caused more than $266 million in damage, and cost $24.5 million to extinguish, the department said. The largest was the Witch fire, which caused the two deaths as it burned 197,990 acres and destroyed 1,650 structures, causing $236 million in damage. The department said the fire was the second largest in San Diego County history. The other two fires were the Guejito fire, which was subsumed by the Witch fire, and the Rice fire, which caused six injuries, burned down 248 structures, consumed 9,472 acres, and caused over $30 million in damage. As of last week, the company had restored power to all of its customers. To do so, the utility replaced 1,880 poles, 290 transformers, and 35 miles of power lines. It took 1,200 workers to do the work. The fires in the county caused electrical outages for 80,000 SDG&E customers. Plaintiff attorneys recently filed two suits against the utility on behalf of residents who lost their homes in the fire. Attorneys reportedly are attempting to build a class action lawsuit.