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Marshall Fire survivors happy with Xcel Energy's decision to shut down power during windstorm

Strong winds in state triggers flash back for Marshall Fire survivors
Strong winds in state triggers flash back for Marshall Fire survivors 03:09

Xcel's outage map shows more than 92,000 customers are without power Saturday night. That number jumped to 137,000 by Sunday morning. 

Many won't be able to turn their lights back on until Sunday afternoon. 

The Somauroo family inside their new home in Louisville during Saturday's windstorm and power outage. CBS

For families who experienced the wrath of the Marshall Fire, these strong winds can be a painful reminder of when flames tore through Boulder County on Dec. 30, 2021.

The Somauroo family in Louisville is now living in their newly reconstructed home.

"It feels good, it's the new old house, the new version of our old house, we feel at home," said Tawnya Samauroo.

From the fire-resistant decking and the roof over their head, the Somauroo's are enjoying their new and improved Louisville home.

"The rebuilding took two years and we're home more than two years later and we really missed our neighbors," said Tawnya.

The move by Xcel Energy to de-energize power lines on Saturday is a decision they're happy with. 

"Honestly, we think about it a lot… every time we go to bed, and we hear wind we have to think about it," said Tawnya.


Although, Kahlil Somauroo wishes he would have known about the potential power outage at least a day before.

"I got a phone call about it at 11 a.m. that the power would be cut off at 3 p.m., so four hours was enough to do some preparation," said Kahlil.

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While Tawnya is happy about the move, it is one she did not expect.

"I think a lot of people did not expect that this was in the realm of possibilities of what Xcel would do, so it came as a big surprise," said Tawnya.

A file image from the Marshall Fire on Dec. 30, 2021.  CBS

Fire scientist Jennifer Balch with the University of Colorado, Boulder says turning off power is a bandage on a much larger problem. But it certainly helps.

"We have a lot of homes in harm's way and literally in the line of fire," said Balch, "We have a lot at risk and I don't fault the power companies for turning the power off, it's one of the possible solutions."

She adds this is a societal challenge, and all of Colorado ecosystems are flammable.

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"There are no easy solutions to this. We either bury our powerlines, we focus on renewables which can minimize the amount of infrastructure that is vulnerable to this high wind conditions, or we think about removing the fuels in and out of power structures," said Balch.

Xcel Energy

Despite possible solutions, the darker night Saturday night was a welcome solution for the Somauroo's. Particularly if it meant saving their newly constructed home.

"I think it shows there's progress," said Tawnya.


In an ongoing lawsuit against Xcel Energy, plaintiffs say the company was at least partially at fault for the Marshall Fire.

It is the most destructive fire in Colorado history. Xcel has repeatedly disputed those claims.

These power outages are something more familiar to people living in California.

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Recently, Pacific Gas and Electric has shut out power during high winds to prevent wires from causing wildfires.

In 2018, the company was blamed for deadly fires that killed 90 people in the town of Paradise.

Early Sunday, an Xcel spokesman provided the following information: 

This morning, Xcel Energy crews are out assessing damage to the electric system caused by extremely high winds in parts of Colorado that started yesterday afternoon and continue into this morning.

In addition to the 55,000 customers whose electric service was turned off yesterday as a public safety measure, about 100,000 additional customers also have power outages caused by the high winds.

Crews are assessing damage now and will begin working to restore power in these areas after winds have died down. More than 600 miles of lines were proactively de-energized, and before power is turned back on, our crews will need to visually inspect the lines to ensure it is safe to do so.

With more than 150,000 customers without power due to this weather event, this restoration process will take time and may extend into Monday, April 8 or longer. 

At 11 a.m., Xcel posted on social media that its crews had started inspecting power lines in advance of bringing power back online. However, that process might take longer than initially expected, the company warned. Some customers may not have electrical power restored until Monday.

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