Oct 24 (Reuters) - The following were the top stories in The Wall Street Journal on Wednesday. Reuters has not verified these stories and does not vouch for their accuracy.
* As property damage mounted from wind-fueled Southern California wildfires that have destroyed more than 1,600 homes in recent days, squabbles broke out among government officials over their preparedness and access to firefighting resources.
* Merrill Lynch & Co. Inc’s MER.N third-quarter write-down could total over $7 billion, reflecting risky mortgage bets and further pressuring Chief Executive Stan O’Neal.
* BP Plc (BP.L) is expected to plead guilty to U.S. criminal environmental charges and pay a $50 million fine related to a Texas refinery explosion. The company will also pay $303 million to settle civil charges for allegedly manipulating the propane market.
* Structured investment vehicles face mounting problems as three major banks try to finalize a rescue plan for the funds.
* Verizon Communications Inc’s (VZ.N) growth is a complicating factor in the vote by Cablevision Systems Corp’s CVC.N shareholders on whether to accept the Dolan family’s $10.6 billion offer to take the company private.
* Members of the United Auto Workers at four Chrysler LLC plants in Indiana voted to reject a tentative labor contract with the auto maker, delivering a significant blow to the union leadership’s bid to win approval for the deal from the rank and file.
* Countrywide Financial Corp CFC.N plans to work with a nonprofit group on a program that would help borrowers avoid foreclosure.
* Rep. Charles Rangel’s tax bill includes two changes that may hurt firms as he looks to replace lost revenue under an overhaul plan.
* The U.S. Food and Drug Administration wants GlaxoSmithKline Plc (GSK.L) to add a “black box” warning about heart-attack risk to the label of its diabetes drug Avandia.
* Amazon.com Inc’s (AMZN.O) higher revenue and quadrupled earnings growth in the third quarter didn’t overtake profit-margin fears, which surfaced again.