State Watch

Sheriff casts doubt on downed power line theory in Colorado wildfire

Associated Press / David Zalubowski

A Boulder County official on Monday said downed power lines are no longer believed to be behind the devastating Marshall Fire that tore through northern Colorado last week.

Local media reported that the blaze was believed to have been started by a downed power line, but Sheriff Joe Pelle said in a press briefing on Monday that the initial belief was based on “radio traffic” that he heard toward the beginning of the fire.

“That changed when crews from Xcel Energy and fire investigators went to the scene and determined that the lines that they found that were down were telecom lines and not power lines, and so that’s when we tried to correct the information and make sure we weren’t pointing fingers,” Pelle said.

Pelle did not disclose any other possible causes of the fire during the briefing, saying he was being “very careful.”

During the press briefing, Pelle also confirmed that two people in Boulder County remain missing.

The utility company Xcel Energy reported soon after the fire that it had found no evidence of a downed power line. Officials said some communication lines, which generally shouldn’t be able to start a fire, may have been confused for live power lines.

Alice Jackson, the president of Xcel Energy Colorado, said on Monday that about 400 structures in the burn path remain without power. She estimated that crews would be able to go out to the affected buildings, assess the damage and restore energy if possible by Thursday evening.

As of this week, more than a thousand homes in Boulder County are believed to have been destroyed or damaged in the fire that spread out across 6,000 acres.

Tags Colorado Colorado Wildfire Xcel Energy

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