Texas energy company admits its power facilities may have triggered deadly Smokehouse Creek blaze

Xcel Energy is telling people who had property or livestock lost to the Smokehouse Creek Fire to submit a claim for property loss. The largest wildfire in Texas history started north of Stinnett and has destroyed more than 1 million acres in the Lone Star State.

STINNETT, Texas – Power company Xcel Energy said its facilities in the Texas Panhandle "appear to have been involved" in starting the largest wildfire in Texas history.

The Smokehouse Creek Fire, which broke out north of the town of Stinnett early last week, continues to rage across the Texas and Oklahoma Panhandles after quickly exploding in size to more than 1 million acres, becoming a historic fire in a matter of days. The fire has killed at least two people, destroyed hundreds of structures and killed countless livestock, as well as devastating grasslands needed by the region's cattle ranchers.

On Thursday, Xcel Energy released a statement saying the Texas power provider is cooperating with the investigation into the start of the Texas wildfires and completed its own review.

"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 company said.

The company disputed claims that "it acted negligently in maintaining and operating its infrastructure" and is telling people who had property or livestock lost to the fire to submit a claim to Xcel Energy for property loss.


"Xcel Energy, through our Southwestern Public Service Company (SPS) subsidiary, has operated in the Texas Panhandle for more than 100 years," Xcel Energy CEO Bob Frenzel said in a statement. "The people in this region are our friends, neighbors and relatives. We are deeply saddened by the losses incurred in this community, and we are committed to supporting its renewal and recovery."

The statement continued to say that Xcel does not believe its facilities caused the ignition of the Windy Deuce Fire, which started near Fritch, Texas and has consumed more than 144,200 acres.

FOX News reports a lawsuit was filed last week alleging a downed powerline near Stinnett on Feb. 26 sparked the blaze.

Editor's note: The headline on this story has been updated to clarify what may have been involved in the fire.