Report: Marshall Fire victims file lawsuit against Xcel Energy

Published: Mar. 31, 2022 at 9:20 PM MDT
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BOULDER COUNTY, Colo. (KKTV) - On Thursday, a class-action lawsuit filed against Xcel Energy in relation to the devastating wildfire that started this past December.

Our sister station in Denver has a copy of that lawsuit which says Xcel Energy was negligent for not keeping up its powerlines. It blames the power company for the wildfire that destroyed almost 1,100 homes.

To get some perspective, 11 News spoke with a woman who helps fire victims navigate recovery. She says isn’t the first time a lawsuit has been filed after a wildfire adding this is something she’s seen before after other fires. She adds they are hearing from a lot of victims who are getting more frustrated as time goes on.

“People are really, very anxious to get information and anxious to get results. And there is a lot of frustration out there in the wildfire-impacted community,” Amy Bach, the Executive Director of United Policyholders said.

It’s been three months and many Marshall Fire victims are still waiting for money after their homes were destroyed or damaged in the blaze. Some victims are now beginning to file lawsuits to get compensated. On Thursday, we learned of a lawsuit filed by a couple and at least two businesses that were affected. CBSDenver says the lawsuit alleges Xcel Energy is to blame for the wildfire that destroyed more than 1,084 homes.

“If they are found to be negligent, they have the resources to compensate for their negligence. If there’s a finding that Xcel, that their equipment was not responsible, then you know, that that’s not going to be a source of additional recovery funding for the impacted homeowners,” Bach explained.

Amy Bach is a lawyer and the executive director of United PolicyHolders, a nonprofit that helps wildfire recovery. The organization has been helping and advising Marshall Fire victims. She says it’s not uncommon for lawsuits like this to start popping up.

“We saw the same thing happened in northern California, against PG&E after the 2017 and 2018 wildfires. And as soon as there was a finding from the fire investigators that the utilities equipment was a factor in the fires, there were lawsuits that were filed,” she said. “Having an at-fault party like a utility can be incredibly helpful to wildfire survivors because two-thirds of them find themselves under-insured.”

Since there hasn’t been an official cause of the fire, Bach says victims need to see what they can get from their insurance companies, start making an inventory of things lost, and try to stay informed.

“The most important thing that we say to people is try to take care of yourself and your family, get as much sleep as you can because trying to make all these decisions at once is overwhelming.”

11 News reached out to Xcel Energy for a comment on the lawsuit. A spokesperson sent the following via email.

“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. 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.”

We’ll keep you updated as this moves through the courts.

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