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A utility company has acknowledged its role in sparking the largest wildfire in Texas history, which has burned for weeks, claimed multiple lives, destroyed hundreds of buildings and killed thousands of cattle.
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Xcel Energy Acknowledges Role in Texas Smokehouse Creek Wildfire

March 8, 2024 – Minneapolis-based Xcel Energy on Thursday acknowledged its involvement in the Smokehouse Creek fire, which started last week and quickly became the largest wildfire in Texas history, burning over 1 million acres to date, according to the Texas Tribune [1.].

“Based on currently available information, Xcel Energy acknowledges that its facilities appear to have been involved in an ignition of the Smokehouse Creek fire,” the company said in a statement. “We encourage people who had property destroyed by or livestock lost in the Smokehouse Creek fire to submit a claim to Xcel Energy through our claims process.”

Xcel Energy also mentioned the Windy Deuce fire, the second large fire threatening the Texas Panhandle that has burned over 142,000 acres. However, the company said it does not believe its facilities caused that fire and is not presently aware of any allegations.

Texas A&M Forest Service officials said they have concluded their investigation and determined that power lines sparked both the Smokehouse Creek and the Windy Deuce fires.

Last week, Xcel disclosed in a Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) filing that attorneys asked the company to preserve a fallen utility pole near where the fire may have started.

In the filing, Xcel stated that “investigations into origin, cause, and damage of the wildland fires burning in or near the service territory of SPS, including the Smokehouse Creek Fire, are underway.”

Texas Homeowners File Lawsuit Against Xcel for Failing to Maintain Power Lines

A lawsuit filed last week by homeowners in Texas is accusing Xcel Energy of neglecting to maintain its power lines.

Homeowner Melanie McQuiddy filed the complaint against Xcel in Hemphill County, alleging that a splintered pole sparked the fire when it fell.

Salem Abraham, a property owner in Canadian, told The Texas Tribune he plans to file a lawsuit against Xcel and Osmose Utility Services, a company that inspects Xcel’s equipment, for damages to his ranch and his brother’s land.

Smokehouse Creek Fire Timeline

The Smokehouse Creek Fire started on February 26, 2024, and is currently affecting parts of the Northeastern Texas panhandle and Western Oklahoma. The fire has impacted several communities in Hemphill and Roberts counties, including the town of Canadian.

As of March 8, 2024, it has burned approximately 1,058,482 acres (1,654 sq mi; 428,352 ha) and is 87% contained, making it the largest wildfire in Texas’s history dating back to 1988. It is also the largest wildfire in the United States in 2024.

The blaze is part of a series of wind-driven wildfires in the Great Plains. There have been at least 2 reported fatalities, one in Stinnett, Texas, about 74 mi northeast of Amarillo, and the other in Canadian, Texas.

Utility Provider Says Facilities Had Role in Sparking Texas Wildfires: FOX 4 News Video

Texas Wildfire Statistics

The following historical data reflects wildfire response for Texas A&M Forest Service and local fire departments. Prior to 2005, official wildfire data was not captured using current reporting methods.

Year Wildfires Acres
2023 7,530 205,144
2022 12,411 650,712
2021 6,039 158,612
2020 7,233 256,750
2019 6,755 195,461
2018 10,423 527,707
2017 10,016 744,061
2016 9,209 299,738
2015 9,439 207,055
2014 9,671 134,947
2013 12,311 69,625
2012 13,225 159,265
2011 30,896 3,943,770
2010 13,213 328,847
2009 18,115 739,464
2008 21,176 1,626,087
2007 7,977 162,502
2006 23,275 1,975,295
2005 9,378 274,197

Source: Texas A&M Forest Service [2.]

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Have you or a loved one been injured in an accident due to the negligence of others?

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The Personal Injury Litigation Group at Schmidt & Clark law firm is an experienced team of trial lawyers that focus on the representation of plaintiffs in Texas Wildfire Lawsuits. We are handling individual litigation nationwide and currently accepting lawsuits in all 50 states.

Again, if you or a loved one was injured, experienced property loss, job loss, were denied insurance, or suffered other damages resulting from the 2024 Texas Wildfire, you should contact our law firm immediately. You may be entitled to a settlement by filing a Texas Wildfire lawsuit and our lawyers can help you receive fair compensation.

References:
1. https://www.texastribune.org/2024/03/07/xcel-energy-texas-wildfires/
2. https://fire-information-tfsgis.hub.arcgis.com/pages/historical-fire-statistics

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