Power Company Admits They Started Massive TX Wildfire

The Minneapolis-based power company that provides electricity in eight Western and Midwestern states, including Texas, acknowledged last Thursday that its facilities in the Texas Panhandle appeared to have played a role in the wildfires that destroyed over a million acres and killed at least two people, CBS News reported.

Xcel Energy said in a March 7 statement that based on the information available, its facilities appeared to have played a part in igniting the Smokehouse Creek Fire, the largest-ever wildfire in Texas history.

Just days earlier, a Texas woman filed suit against Xcel’s subsidiary Southwestern Public Service Company, and the Georgia-based contractor Osmose Utilities Services, claiming that the fire started on February 26 when one of the wooden utility polls broke.

The Smokehouse Creek Fire started in Hutchinson County. Within days, it grew into the largest wildfire in the state, burning 1,059,570 acres.

By March 7, the Smokehouse Creek Fire was 44 percent contained.

Multiple wildfires subsequently erupted in Gray County, Moore County, and Oldham County. The Windy Deuce Fire in Moore County burned around 144,000 acres.

Xcel Energy said it did not believe its facilities had anything to do with the Windy Deuce Fire, which, by March 6 was 81 percent contained.

Xcel disputed the claim that the company was negligent in “maintaining and operating its infrastructure.” The company said those whose livestock was killed by the Smokehouse Creek Fire or whose property was destroyed could submit a claim.

Xcel CEO Bob Frenzel said in a statement that the company, through its subsidiary Southwestern Public Service Company, had been operating in the Texas Panhandle for more than a century. He said Xcel considers the people in the region its friends and neighbors, and the company was “saddened by the losses incurred” and “committed to supporting” the community’s “renewal and recovery.”