PG&E helps man with property that burned during storm

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KBAK/KBFX) When the high winds of early May blew across Bakersfield, downed power lines in Oildale resident Martin Stewart's backyard sparked a fire that caused thousands of dollars in damages.

Stewart called the Eyewitness News tipline when Pacific Gas and Electric Co. refused to reimburse him for the damage.

PG&E told Stewart that because the power lines fell in a windstorm, he likely did not have a claim.

Living on a disability check, Stewart knew he would not have the money to make many of the repairs, and would be stuck with a hazardous eyesore.

But, since our first report, PG&E reconsidered.

After visiting the property and evaluating the damage, PG&E decided to cover the cost of repairs.

But why the change in decision?

The utility could not be reached for comment, but Stewart believes it was our report that pushed PG&E to pay up.

"I've spoken to a lot of people that know me and have seen this, and they say if it hadn't been for the news, they wouldn't have done anything and it would still be looking like the day that it burned," said Stewart. "I'd really like to thank Eyewitness News for the coverage and the help."

Today, the backyard reflects a dramatic difference from what it looked like following the storm, but the job isn't finished yet.

"There's stuff that still needs to be replaced that was burned in the fire," said Stewart, "My trailer still hasn't been replaced."

In the two months since the fire destroyed his backyard, Stewart and his wife have even planted a vegetable garden of squash, peppers, and carrots just in time for summer.

They hope to complete the repairs soon and put this experience behind them.