Operational Excellence
June 8, 2023

Update: Boulder County Sheriff’s Office completes Marshall Fire investigation

On June 8, the Boulder County Sheriff’s Office announced the findings of its investigation into the cause of the Marshall Fire in December 2021. Our thoughts continue to be with the families and communities impacted by the devastating wildfires in Colorado, including our own employees whose homes and families were directly affected. 
We are grateful for the commitment of our employees who helped save lives and property during the devastating fires. Hundreds of employees, many of whom live in the community and are dedicated to serving their neighbors, worked around the clock during the fires, windstorm and the snow and freezing cold that followed. While they worked to restore electric and natural gas service to the area, we are proud that they also pulled together to serve the community in other ways, including providing thousands of space heaters to residents and sharing information on how to access services to take the first steps toward recovering and rebuilding. 
Since that time, our employees have worked to find new ways to assist in the rebuilding of the community, and the company has coordinated closely with officials as they looked to determine the cause of the fire.
The investigators’ report concluded that the Marshall Fire was made up of two fires, one that began at a residential property on Eldorado Springs Drive and another that began near the Marshall Mesa Trailhead. County officials said no criminal charges will be filed. 
We agree with the report that the Marshall Fire started as a result of an ignition on a property previously reported to be affiliated with an entity called the Twelve Tribes, and that this ignition had nothing to do with Xcel Energy’s powerlines.
The sheriff’s report also cites several potential causes for a second ignition near the Marshall Mesa Trailhead that started roughly an hour after the first fire. We believe the second fire burned into an area already burned by the fire from the first ignition and did not cause damage to any homes or businesses. We strongly disagree with any suggestion that Xcel Energy’s powerlines caused the second ignition, which according to the report, started 80 to 110 feet away from our powerlines in an area with underground coal fire activity. Xcel Energy did not have the opportunity to review and comment on the analyses relied on by the sheriff’s office and believes those analyses are flawed and their conclusions are incorrect.
We have reviewed our maintenance records and believe the system was properly maintained. We operate and maintain our electric system consistent with leading energy service practices and we’re proud of our employees and the work they do to deliver safe, reliable and clean energy to our communities, especially during challenging times like the Marshall Fire. We are prepared to vigorously defend against any claims that damage from the Marshall Fire was related to our infrastructure.
As members of the Boulder community, we will continue to support our neighbors in this recovery. We recognize the journey is far from over for all those impacted by the fires. Nearly 240,000 electric and 12,800 natural gas customers were impacted by the fires, and our employees and mutual aid partners have worked since day one to restore, rebuild and recover. Moving ahead, our focus is on continuing to help customers in Boulder County access resources for rebuilding, including incentives that can help residents save money while building energy efficiency into their new homes. Learn how we’re supporting Boulder County at Marshall Fire Recovery Resources.