Xcel Energy admits its facilities might’ve sparked biggest Texas wildfire

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TL/DR –

Xcel Energy has indicated that its facilities may have been involved in the ignition of the Smokehouse Creek Fire, the largest wildfire in Texas history, which has been burning since last month. The Texas A&M Forest Service stated that the fire, as well as the Windy Deuce Fire, were caused by downed power lines. Xcel Energy is disputing negligence claims, but is encouraging people who lost property or livestock in the fire to submit a claim to the company.


Xcel Energy Suspected in Texas Wildfire Ignition

Xcel Energy’s facilities may have sparked a vast wildfire in the Texas Panhandle, according to a company statement. The utility hasn’t revealed how it came to this conclusion, other than citing currently available information.

The company refutes negligence claims for operating and maintaining its infrastructure. However, victims of the Smokehouse Creek fire are encouraged to file claims for property damage or livestock losses through Xcel’s claims process.

Investigation into Cause of Blaze

The Texas A&M Forest Service shared that downed power lines were responsible for igniting the Smokehouse Creek Fire and the Windy Deuce Fire. The former is the largest in state history, scorching over a million acres. Still, the service did not confirm if Xcel’s power lines caused the fires.

The Smokehouse Creek Fire has claimed two lives and destroyed approximately 500 structures. As of the latest forest service report, the fire is 74% contained. Two nearby fires, the Grape Vine Creek Fire and the Windy Deuce Fire, are 96% and 89% contained, respectively.

Claims Against Xcel Energy

Xcel Energy promises to process claims swiftly, with priority given to those who lost homes in the fire. This comes as utility companies risk increasing scrutiny for wildfire ignitions, as seen in Hawaii and California.

In a previous incident, a downed power line from Hawaiian Electric started a fire in Maui, leading to a lawsuit against the company. The fire resulted in at least 101 fatalities, as reported by The Associated Press.

California’s Pacific Gas & Electric Co. agreed to a $13.5 billion settlement for damages to wildfire victims in 2019, following multiple lawsuits over four lethal fires in three years.

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