Xcel Energy hit with another Marshall fire lawsuit

Hart Van Denburg/CPR News
Homes in Superior, Colorado, on Monday, Jan. 3, 2022, destroyed by the Marshall fire. Marshall fire ignited Dec. 30, 2021, in Boulder County and destroyed nearly 1,000 homes in and around Superior and Louisville, and left thousands of people scrambling to evacuate, driven by winds that sometimes exceeded 100 mph.

Xcel Energy, the state’s largest utility provider, is facing another large lawsuit over its role in the 2021 Marshall fire.

Nearly 250 residents and business owners filed a lawsuit in Boulder County District Court on Monday, alleging Xcel caused a variety of losses among plaintiffs.

“Plaintiffs were damaged as a result of the Marshall fire, including but not limited to suffering losses of real property and personal property, loss of use, evacuation expenses, loss of income, personal injury, and general damages, including emotional trauma,” the complaint said.

The complaint accuses Xcel of inverse condemnation, negligence, premise liability, trespass, and public and private nuisance. The plaintiffs are seeking an unspecified amount of monetary damages.  

Last month, Boulder County officials announced the findings of an investigation into the origin of Colorado's most destructive wildfire. It showed a downed Xcel Energy power line was one of the causes, along with a smoldering debris burn at a separate location. Investigators identified the religious group Twelve Tribes as the owners of the property where that ignition source sparked. 

Authorities chose not to file criminal charges against either Xcel or Twelve Tribes, but civil litigation has piled up in the aftermath of the investigation.

Two other lawsuits were filed against Xcel in early July. One comes from over 150 insurance companies that insured owners of property burned. The other was brought by Edelson PC, a law firm with a specialized wildfire team that has worked on costly litigation over some of the country’s largest fires. Its previous clients include victims of the 2020 Oregon Labor Day fire and the Camp fire in Paradise, Calif. The Marshall fire suit is on behalf of a couple who lost their home.

None of the civil lawsuits filed against Xcel have named Twelve Tribes as a defendant.

The Marshall fire destroyed 1,000 homes in Superior and Louisville in December 2021, causing over $2 billion in property damage.