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Lawsuit blaming Marshall fire on Xcel Energy can continue

Xcel denies allegations
20211230_140610
Marshall Fire smoke covers Paradise Lane in Louisville

 

A lawsuit that claims the Marshall fire, the state’s most destructive wildfire, was started by power lines maintained by Xcel Energy can continue, a district judge ruled last week.

First Judicial District Judge Christopher Zenisek denied a motion filed by Xcel to dismiss the lawsuit, saying in his order that the plaintiffs in the case had sufficiently alleged negligence.

Among the lead plaintiffs in the lawsuit are George and Lisa Kupfner, owners of Eldorado Liquor Inc. Their suit claims that they were “terrorized and damaged” by the Dec. 30 wildfire that destroyed or damaged over 1,000 structures in Suprior and Lousivlle. The suit also alleges that power lines and utility equipment “were a substantial factor in the cause, origins and continuation” of the fire.

Xcel Energy asked the judge to dismiss the class action lawsuit claiming its allegations were unfounded.

An official cause of the fire has yet to be determined and the results of the investigation may take months to produce, according to the Boulder County Sheriff.

The lawsuit — filed in Boulder County on March 31 -— alleges that sparks from an Xcel power line near Marshall Road started a ground fire in the Eldorado Springs/Marshall Mesa area on the morning of Dec. 30, 2021.

High winds fueled the flames that grew into 6,000 acres in the two communities as well as unincorporated Boulder County. At least one death was blamed on the fire.

Xcel said in a statement sent to Denver7 News in March that there is no evidence linking its equipment to the fire.

“We’re aware of the filing and we’re currently reviewing it. As you know, the cause of the fire is still under investigation and we continue to work with authorities,” the statement said. “Our own investigation shows that our equipment in the area of the fire was properly maintained and inspected, consistent with our high standards, and we have not seen evidence that our equipment ignited the fire.”

In March, the Boulder County Sheriff's Office said the investigation into the cause and origin of the Marshall fire is expected to take several months. Once the investigation is complete, detectives will present the evidence to the district attorney's office, who will determine if charges are appropriate, according to Channel7.

If the civil suit is successful, Xcel could be responsible for the more than $2 billion in losses the fire caused, according to the news station.