California Homeowners Sue Golf Course for Wildfire Damages

October 17, 2014

A group of homeowners has sued a golf course owner for negligence, stemming from a wildfire that destroyed eight houses, two businesses and an apartment complex near San Diego.

The lawsuit filed last week in San Diego Superior Court blames Omni La Costa Resort & Spa LLC for the May 14 wildfire and says it may have been started by equipment.

The Carlsbad Fire Department has said the cause of the fire that started near the fairway of the course’s seventh hole is undetermined. It hasn’t ruled out a smoldering cigarette or cigar or a titanium golf club striking a rock or other hard surface, but Chief Mike Davis said Wednesday that there was no physical evidence.

Gerald Singleton, an attorney for more than a dozen homeowners who own property near the golf course, said maintenance equipment may have caused the fire. If it was a smoldering cigarette, he said, the golf course may be responsible if it failed to warn golfers about the dangerous fire conditions.

Richard Moreno, an attorney for the resort, didn’t immediately respond to a phone message seeking comment.

The fire quickly spread to 400 acres in the north San Diego suburb on a hot, windy day and was the second most destructive in a series of blazes that week in the region. A 13-year-old girl has been charged with arson in starting the most destructive fire, which ruined three dozen homes.

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