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Energy Company Admits It Had Role in Largest Wildfire in Texas History

Scott Olson/Getty Images
Scott Olson/Getty Images

Xcel Energy admitted on Thursday that its facilities played a role in starting the largest wildfire in Texas state history last week.

In a statement released by the company, Xcel said that it was cooperating with law enforcement and conducting its own internal review into the massive fires that raged across the Texas Panhandle.

“Based on currently available information, Xcel Energy acknowledges that its facilities appear to have been involved in an ignition of the Smokehouse Creek fire,” the statement said.

At its largest, the Smokehouse Creek fire encompassed an estimated 1,700 square miles, over 1 million acres. The most recent update from Texas A&M Forest Services on Wednesday said the blaze was 44 percent contained.

The news comes as Texas A&M Forest Services announced that its investigators determined the cause of the fire to be power lines.

This was also the cause of the nearby Windy Deuce Fire, which claimed the life of a volunteer fire chief, but Xcel said that it had determined that its facilities were not the cause of that fire.

“Xcel Energy disputes claims that it acted negligently in maintaining and operating its infrastructure; however, we encourage people who had property destroyed by or livestock lost in the Smokehouse Creek fire to submit a claim to Xcel Energy through our claims process.”

According to the statement, the company learned from authorities that 47 occupied homes in Hemphill County and 17 in Roberts County had been destroyed. Fewer than 47 homes were impacted in Hutchinson County, Xcel said in its statement.

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