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Published on March 04, 2024
Canadian Woman Sues Xcel Energy, Accusing Utility of Sparking Texas' Largest WildfireSource: Facebook/Little Free Farm Stand/Sharing Shelf

A Canadian woman, Melanie McQuiddy, whose house was ravaged by the most extensive wildfire in Texas history, has accused Xcel Energy of negligence, claiming the utility's power pole was at fault for sparking the blaze. Reuters reported that McQuiddy filed a lawsuit alleging that a deteriorating power pole, belonging to Xcel, toppled and triggered the Smokehouse Creek fire.

With at least two people confirmed dead and scorching over 1,078,000 acres in the Texas Panhandle since Monday, the Smokehouse Creek Fire has ballooned into an inferno of record proportions. According to a Fox San Antonio report, McQuiddy's lawsuit insists that despite Xcel's responsibility for maintaining safe electrical infrastructure, the company negligently failed to repair and inspect its power line poles.

Representing McQuiddy is attorney Mikal Watts, who starkly stated, "Xcel will pay for every dollar that its wildfire has caused." The litigation also implicates Osmose Utilities Services, the firm enlisted to help Xcel with power line inspections, as per accusations mentioned in WTAQ's reporting. Both Xcel and Osmose are yet to comment on the claims.

While the search for answers continues, Xcel's stock suffered an 8% dive following the revelation of a law firm's letter warning of potential liability for the disaster. Amid its probe, the utility has avowed cooperation with officials as stated in comments obtained by ABC 7 News. Gerald Singleton, managing partner of a seasoned law firm, told The Texas Tribune that while lightning is often the main culprit behind such wildfires, the proximity of the fallen power pole to the fire's origin points becomes the next line of inquiry, as reported by Fox San Antonio.

McQuiddy is seeking compensatory and punitive damages for the loss of her home in the ongoing lawsuit. Meanwhile, Xcel is simultaneously contending with nearly 300 other suits in Colorado, wherein the company's apparatus is alleged to have sparked the 2021 Marshall Fire in Boulder County, boasting damages upwards of $2 billion. Watts, a veteran in wildfire litigation having brokered a $13.5 billion settlement with PG&E Corp, is also representing victims from last year's Maui wildfires in lawsuits against Hawaii Electric.