CBS 11 Header TXA 21 Header MeTV Header KRLD Header The Fan Header
Two Great Apps: CBS DFW Weather App: iPhone App Store | Android App Coming Oct | Download
                                   CBS Local App: The Latest From CBS DFW On Your Device | iOS & Android | Download
                                   -Including Breaking News Notifications, Audio and Video from CBS DFW

Consumer News

Power Company Sued After Massive Texas Wildfire

View Comments

Get Breaking News First

Receive News, Politics, and Entertainment Headlines Each Morning.
Sign Up

From Our CBS Music Web Sites

186152214 Power Company Sued After Massive Texas WildfireJIM GAFFIGAN, "My kids have never eaten Hot Pockets

181572784 8 Power Company Sued After Massive Texas WildfireFunny Faced Cheerleaders

 alt=Musicians Then And Now

455079896 Power Company Sued After Massive Texas WildfireWATCH: Iggy Azalea & JLO's Booty Battle

 alt=Remembering Jimi Hendrix 44 Years Later

cowb thumb Power Company Sued After Massive Texas WildfireCowboys Cheerleaders

FORT WORTH (AP) - A utility knew about wildfire dangers amid Texas’ severe drought but failed to remove dead trees and branches near power lines that sparked the most destructive wildfire in state history, an attorney said Tuesday after filing a lawsuit for some families who lost their homes.

A Texas Forest Service investigation into the Sept. 4 Bastrop fire near Austin determined that the blaze started after wind gusts caused limbs and a dead tree to topple onto power lines. However, the report did not blame Bluebonnet Electric Cooperative for the blaze that destroyed more than 1,500 Central Texas homes and left two people dead.

Bluebonnet CEO Mark Rose released a statement Monday saying the fire was a “terrible incident” brought on by high winds, hot temperatures and historic drought in heavily wooded areas — but those conditions were beyond anyone’s control. He also said the trees that first caught fire were on private property and outside the utility’s rights-of-way.

But attorney William Rossick, who filed a lawsuit Monday on behalf of three residents, said Bluebonnet had the right — and the responsibility — to remove dead trees and trim branches on private property, and both of these areas were close to easements.

At a Bluebonnet annual membership meeting in May, Rose “stressed that we should all pray for rain” and told the group that wildfires had scorched more than 330,000 acres so far, while more than 2 million acres of the state was in severe drought, according to minutes of the meeting posted on Rossick’s website.

“A reasonable utility company would have been vigilant in policing their pine forests,” Rossick said.

The lawsuit accuses Bluebonnet of negligence and seeks compensation for property damage, mental anguish, medical expenses, physical impairment and court costs.

According to the Public Utility Commission of Texas, no agency oversees the trimming of trees and branches around power lines.

(© Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

View Comments