The first lawsuit filed in connection with the Marshall Fire, which destroyed more than 1,000 homes and other buildings in Boulder County, claims sparks from a power line started the December blaze.
The lawsuit filed Thursday against Xcel Energy claims its power lines and equipment were a “substantial factor” in causing, initiating and continuing the wildfire, which was fanned by intense winds. It says witnesses saw a fire ignite near a power line in the area where authorities say the wildfire started, with a witness filming sparks from a faulty power line and starting a fire to the ground that became the forest fire.
A Minneapolis-based Xcel spokeswoman, Michelle Aguayo, said the company was reviewing the lawsuit, but said she had not seen evidence that its equipment started the fire.
“Our own investigation shows that our equipment in the area of the fire has been properly maintained and inspected to our high standards,” she said.
Authorities have not completed their investigation into the causes of the fire, responsible for at least one death, and said Thursday that the work should last several more months.
The Boulder County Sheriff’s Office has declined to provide details on the findings so far, but has previously said it is investigating “all potential causes” including power lines, human activity and the old coal mines in the area where the coal continues to burn underground. .
No footage from the video referenced in the lawsuit was included in the filing. KUSA-TV has obtained video from a man not involved in the lawsuit that shows a sudden large puff of smoke coming from a power line at the intersection in the area where the wildfire is believed to have started, but after that a fire can already be seen burning nearby.
The lawsuit seeks to make a class action, representing those affected by the fire. It was brought by two related businesses, including a store near where the sparking power line was reported, and an unnamed married couple. The store survived the fire and the lawsuit does not provide specific details about how the couple were injured in the fire.