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Man billed for kite's tangle

Forget about that kite-eating tree, Charlie Brown; the kite-eating power lines near Larry Cobb's house are far more upsetting.

Cobb's 5-foot-tall kite took a dive on a breezy day last month and hit a utility power transformer, causing a small fire.

"There were sparks, flames. It sounded like a bomb," Cobb said. "By the time I got in the house, the lights were out."

Pacific Gas & Electric Co. workers repaired the lines. Then they sent Cobb a bill _ for $3,572.88. It was a nighttime, 12-hour job for three repair workers, the utility said.

Cobb, an unemployed warehouse worker, said he couldn't pay. "I don't have that kind of money," he said. "I'm living with my mom."

Pacific Gas relented, saying it would waive the bill because Cobb was unemployed. Spokeswoman Jeanette Valentine defended the utility's actions.

"It's obviously a large bill," she said. "We're trying to greatly discourage people from flying kites near power lines."

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