By Rebekah Riess, CNN
A class-action lawsuit has been filed against Xcel Energy Inc. in Colorado, alleging its power lines and equipment “were a substantial factor in the cause, origin, and continuation of the deadly Marshall Fire,” according to a court filing.
The origin of the blaze is still under investigation, said Boulder County Sheriff Joe Pelle.
The lawsuit claims witnesses saw fire igniting near a power line the morning of December 30, 2021, suggesting sparks ignited a ground fire that became known as the Marshall Fire in the Eldorado Springs neighborhood of Boulder.
“Strong winds carried sparks from an Xcel power line that started a ground fire in the Eldorado Springs-Marshall Mesa neighborhood,” the lawsuit states. “The resulting fire burned across 6,000 acres of land and destroyed 1,091 structures, including 1,084 homes. 30,000 residents were evacuated, dozens were injured, and at least one man lost his life while fleeing from the Marshall Fire.”
Attorney James W. Avery, who filed the suit, claims negligence on Xcel’s part and is seeking summary judgment for the plaintiffs he says were “terrorized and damaged,” including “real or personal property or damage from smoke, soot, and ash.”
Xcel Energy told CNN it is reviewing the suit while continuing 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,” Xcel spokeswoman Michelle Aguayo told CNN. “There were no downed power lines in the area at the time of the fire.”
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CNN’s Andy Rose contributed to this report.