DENVER — A lawsuit blaming Xcel Energy for the Marshall Fire will be allowed to move forward after a judge denied an Xcel motion to have it dismissed.
The judge made the ruling Tuesday. Xcel filed the motion to dismiss in July.
The original lawsuit was filed in March by two businesses -- Eldorado Enterprises, Inc. and Eldorado Liquor, Inc. -- and George and Lisa Kupfner, a married couple characterized as “terrorized and damaged” by the fire. It claims power lines and utility equipment “were a substantial factor in the cause, origin, and continuation” of the event.
The suit cites video shot by a witness on Dec. 30. The video shows sparks flying from a malfunctioning power line near the Shell gas station at 1805 South Foothills Highway, in the Eldorado Springs neighborhood of Boulder County.
In the court filings seeking to have the potential class action lawsuit dismissed, Xcel wrote the video does not show sparks igniting a fire, but rather shows that the Marshall Fire was already ablaze. After the arcing power line video, more footage shows the smoke well into Superior.
While the lawsuit directly blames power line sparks for igniting the Marshall Fire, fire investigators have not released information backing that assertion. In March, the Boulder County Sheriff's Office said it would take several more months to investigate the cause and origin of the fire.
Sagamore neighborhood after Marshall Fire
9Wants To Know has reported on three possibilities for the start of the Marshall Fire: Burning on private property near the origin, coal seams burning underground and the arcing power lines.
For the lawsuit against Xcel to have legs, dots will need to be connected showing arcing power lines led to or contributed to the fire, or that Xcel was negligent with its equipment.
"You got to show causation and without it, you've got no claim that would ever get to a jury," 9NEWS legal analyst Scott Robinson said.
Every judge in Boulder District Court recused themselves from this case. It may get moved to Denver court, but right now, a Jefferson County judge is overseeing the case.
A hearing in the case is set for Jan. 13.
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