Personal Injury

Xcel Energy Faces Scrutiny Over Role in Texas Panhandle Wildfire

Wildfire burns in a field

If you've been injured, our Texas attorneys can help you pursue a claim

Xcel Energy disclosed in a statement on Thursday, March 7, that its facilities seem to have played a role in igniting the massive wildfire that has been engulfing the Texas Panhandle since February. However, the company did not elaborate further on the specifics of this determination, stating that it was made based on the currently available information.

"Xcel Energy disputes claims that it acted negligently in maintaining and operating its infrastructure; however, 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," the statement said, according to a report by NBC News.

The Smokehouse Creek Fire is now the largest wildfire ever recorded in Texas. Downed power lines are cited as the cause, with Xcel Energy's infrastructure under scrutiny as a possible contributing factor. In response, the company has initiated an internal review.

The fire's devastation spans over 1 million acres, tragically claiming two lives and leveling roughly 500 structures. This has spurred conversations about utility accountability and legal recourse for impacted individuals.

The worst wildfire in Texas history

As of Thursday morning, the forest service reported that the fire was 74% contained, with two adjacent fires still ablaze. The nearby Grape Vine Creek Fire was reported to be 96% contained, while the Windy Deuce Fire was at 89% containment.

Xcel Energy has said that claims filed with them would be promptly addressed, with priority given to those who lost their homes in the fire.

Recent years have seen utility companies facing allegations of igniting significant wildfires, with incidents in Hawaii and California drawing particular attention. In a lawsuit filed last year, residents accused Hawaiian Electric of negligence and failure to shut down its power system before harsh winds struck Maui.

Hawaiian Electric acknowledged that a downed power line sparked a fire on August 8, with firefighters initially containing it. However, a second wildfire later broke out and spread to Lahaina, resulting in the loss of at least 101 lives.

Similarly, Pacific Gas & Electric Co. in California agreed to pay $13.5 billion in damages to wildfire victims in 2019. Residents filed suits against the company in connection with four fatal fires over three years, including the 2015 Butte Fire, the 2016 Ghost Ship Fire, the 2017 Tubbs Fire, and the 2018 Camp Fire.

Legal help for Texas wildfire victims

Victims of the Texas panhandle wildfire may seek legal recourse to address their losses and hold those responsible for the blaze accountable. Potential legal options may include filing claims against Xcel Energy or other potentially liable parties for damages incurred, such as medical expenses, emotional distress, loss of income, and property loss.

If you or a loved one has been injured in the Texas panhandle wildfire, it's important to seek legal help as soon as possible. At Tracey Fox & Walters, our attorneys have experience successfully handling claims involving Texas fires and other catastrophic accidents, such as the ITC Deer Park Chemical Fire. Our dedicated legal team can help assess your situation, explain your legal rights, and guide you through the claims process. To learn more about how we can help, contact us today for a free and confidential consultation. Serving clients throughout Texas, we have offices in Houston, Dallas, and San Antonio.

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