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Downed Xcel Energy pole suspected as possible source of historic Texas wildfire

Xcel Energy cooperating in Texas wildfire investigation
Xcel Energy cooperating in Texas wildfire investigation 00:21

MINNEAPOLIS — At more than 1 million acres burned so far, the Smokehouse Creek Fire is Texas' worst wildfire ever, and the second-largest in U.S. history.

According to a filing with the U.S. Securities Exchange Commission, investigators from several insurance companies notified Minneapolis-based Xcel Energy on Thursday that one of its downed utility poles may be a possible cause.

Investigators also want to preserve a fallen utility pole "situated within the vicinity of the fire's potential area of origin."

Xcel gave this statement Thursday to WCCO:

Our thoughts are with the families and communities impacted by the devastating wildfires across the Texas Panhandle. As members of this community, we will continue to support our neighbors in this recovery.

We are working in coordination with first responders and local officials to support the power needs of our communities, while safely restoring power to customers where possible. We will cooperate with officials while conducting our own investigations to determine the causes of the fires. 

Texas Wildfires
Charred vehicles sit at an auto body shop after the property was burned by the Smokehouse Creek Fire, Wednesday, Feb. 28, 2024, in Canadian, Texas. Julio Cortez / AP

The wildfire in the Texas Panhandle has killed at least two people, according to CBS News. The U.S. Forest Service says the Smokehouse Creek Fire has also merged with the nearby 697 Reamer Fire.

President Joe Biden said Thursday during a visit to the southern border in Texas that hundreds of federal personnel have already been dispatched to the area, and more are on the way.

Wildfire threats in Minnesota, Wisconsin

New data from the National Interstate Fire Centers shows Minnesota and northern Wisconsin will have an increased risk for wildfires this spring.

Last year, Minnesota had 813 wildfires that burned over 8,600 acres. The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources says it's responded to 45 wildfires covering approximately 545 acres in just the last week and half.

DNR officials say it's important to keep an eye on anything you burn or any equipment you use outside in the months ahead. 

The NIFC says this elevated risk will last through at least May.

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