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Westside residents blame JEA power lines for damaging fire

6:29 PM, Mar 28, 2013   |    comments
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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Earlier this year, a two-alarm fire spread from a field under JEA's high power lines near Crystal Springs to several homes nearby, causing damage.

Tina Parrish said her teenage son grabbed a garden hose and started spraying the fence.

"If he did not do that, it would have been worse," said Parrish, "Our deck and home would have been on fire."

The fire destroyed several fences adjacent to the power line system.

Phil Brown said his daughter Jennifer recently spent $3,000 for a vinyl fence and now it is a total loss.

"Their power line caused the spark," said Brown, "The spark caused the and fire and all this damage."

JEA said it is not negligent, and that does not bode well with Brown.

"I don't know if they're negligent," he said, "All I know is they had a fire and they should make it right."

The residents filed claims with the JEA. Jennifer Brown's claim for her vinyl fence was denied. 

"Something is unfair," said Phil Brown.

Tina Parrish's claim for the damage to her wood fence and pool cover was also rejected.

"It has happened before," said Parrish,"Sparks (from the lines) I called the fire department and they put out the fire."

Parrish has lived next to the power lines since 1999, Jennifer Brown moved into the neighborhood in 2002.

They're surprised the JEA denied their claims; JEA said it was not negligent and therefore not liable for the damage to their properties

"I think if their wires caused the problem," said Brown, "they should be the ones that help us out and try to fix the damage."

JEA spokesperson Gerri Boyce said when they inspected the substation and the lines, there was no damage to any of the equipment that indicated it sparked.

"No JEA equipment had to be replaced, no evidence of JEA equipment starting a fire," Boyce said via email.

The JEA said homeowners can contact the city adjuster or file a claim with their homeowners insurance.

Homeowner's insurance would cover such peril, said David Miller of Brightway Insurance.

"But that means paying a deductible," said Miller, "and a claim against them.

JEA is trying to protect the city's money, and that is what they're suppose to do. But if there's even a small possibility that a spark from the high power lines started the fire, the JEA should pay for the damage, at minimum it should pay the deductibles.

First Coast News

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