Monday, April 15, 2024

The company that takes care of utilities says their stuff might have had something to do with the beginning of the fire at Smokehouse Creek in Texas

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The company that gives electricity to most of the Texas Panhandle says its equipment might have started the biggest wildfire ever seen in the state. This fire burned over a million acres and destroyed many people’s homes.

“From what we know now, it looks like Xcel Energy’s equipment might have started the Smokehouse Creek fire,” the company said in a news release on Thursday.

No one knows for sure what caused the fire, which burned a huge area in Texas and Oklahoma. It was one of five fires in the Panhandle that wrecked land and homes last week.

A woman named Melanie McQuiddy, whose home got destroyed, is suing. She says a power pole that fell down started the fire.

McQuiddy’s lawyer, Mikal Watts, told CNN they looked at how the fire spread to find out it started from a specific wooden pole. They’re blaming Xcel and another company for not checking the pole properly.

In her lawsuit, McQuiddy says the pole broke on February 26 because the companies didn’t check, fix, or replace it, and that’s what started the fire.

“Xcel Energy says it didn’t do anything wrong in keeping up its equipment. But if people lost property or livestock in the Smokehouse Creek fire, they should tell Xcel Energy about it,” the company’s news release said.

Xcel says 47 homes in Hemphill County and 17 in Roberts County got destroyed by the Smokehouse Creek fire. They’re still figuring out how many homes got destroyed in Hutchinson County.

About 500 homes and buildings got destroyed by the five fires in the Panhandle, state officials said.

The Smokehouse Creek fire burned 1,059,570 acres and is partly under control, according to the Texas A&M Forest Service. It killed at least two people and spread into Oklahoma, where it burned more than 31,500 acres.

The fire, along with the other four, caused big losses for ranchers. Many cattle died, and many more had to be put down because they got burns on their hooves and wouldn’t survive.

“We feel for the people in this area, who are our friends, neighbors, and family,” said Xcel CEO Bob Frenzel. “We’re very sorry for what happened and want to help the community recover.”

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