Lawsuit blames Texas Panhandle wildfire on fallen power pole

  • The Smokehouse Creek burned a historic 1 million acres across Texas
  • Suit: Company 'failed to properly inspect, maintain and replace' power pole
  • A spokesperson for the power company says an investigation is ongoing

A firefighter extinguishes hotspots following the Smokehouse Creek Fire in Miami, Texas, US, on Saturday, March 2, 2024. Texas emergency crews are battling the worst wildfire in state history amid forecasts for several more days of dry, windy weather that will make their task more difficult. Photographer: Jordan Vonderhaar/Bloomberg via Getty Images

(NewsNation) — A new lawsuit claims a falling utility pole caused the historic 1 million-acre wildfire in the Texas Panhandle.

Melanie McQuiddy filed a lawsuit late Friday against the Southwestern Public Service Company, a subsidiary of Xcel Energy, and Osmose Utilities Services, a Georgia-based contractor that inspects wood utility poles.

According to the lawsuit, the fire started Feb. 26 when the pole, which the energy companies “failed to properly inspect, maintain and replace,” cracked and snapped off at its base.

“As a result of the utility, powered utility lines hit the ground, igniting a fire, which spread quickly into an uncontrollable conflagration,” the lawsuit stated.

A spokesperson for Xcel said in a statement there is no official determination for the causes of any of the fires in the Texas Panhandle and that investigations are ongoing.

The Smokehouse Creek fire scorched more than 1 million acres and destroyed dozens of homes near the towns of Stinnett and Canadian.

As of Sunday afternoon, the Smokehouse Creek fire was 15% contained and two other fires were at least 60% contained. Strong winds, dry grass and unseasonably warm temperatures fed the blazes.

A cluster of fires have burned across more than 1,900 square miles (4,921 square kilometers) in rural areas surrounding Amarillo. The largest blaze, Smokehouse Creek, accounting for nearly 1,700 square miles (4,400 square kilometers), spilled into neighboring Oklahoma.

As firefighters fought the unprecedented blazes, humanitarian organizations pivoted to victims who have lost their homes and livelihoods. Residents began clearing affected property Saturday and by Sunday, the extent of the losses began mounting.


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