Colo. Residents Settle Wildfire Lawsuit with Xcel

September 12, 2005

Jamestown, Colo. residents who sued Xcel Energy after losing homes or property in a wildfire in 2003 have settled their lawsuit against the company.

The 49 plaintiffs agreed not to disclose financial terms of the settlement offer from Xcel Energy attorneys. Checks to the plaintiffs were cut last month.

Attorney Tom MacFarland, who represented most of the residents and insurance companies that sued Xcel, confirmed the case was settled. He and an Xcel spokesman declined further comment.

Witnesses said the 3,500-acre Overland fire in 2003 burned at least 18 houses.

In 2004, residents filed their negligence lawsuit against Xcel and one of its contractors, saying the fire was sparked from a power line that was downed by a ponderosa pine in high wind. The lawsuit alleged the utility company failed to properly remove trees that could fall on the line.

In a report solicited by Xcel as part of the lawsuit, Arvada-based electrical engineer company NEI determined that extreme dryness and a blustery wind storm were to blame for the blaze, not the power company.

There was a 20-foot easement around the power poles, and the fallen tree was more than 15 feet outside the easement and downhill from the line, the NEI report said.

The case had been scheduled for trial this fall.

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