June 20, 2024

USA: Texas House Committee Confirms Decayed Power Pole Sparked Texas Panhandle Fire, The Largest Wildfire In State History That Killed 2 People And Burned 1 Million Acres Across 6 Couties.

I just found out about this horrible news is reason why I'm sharing with you now. Another fire that is man-made that caused so much devastation. Do you think this is on purpose? I think it is being done on purpose the power pole was chopped down at the base of the power pole that started the fire. It's like the evil ones get their rocks off watching people suffer. The Climate Change cult have eco-terrorists doing their dirty work so they blame fires on "Climate Change" or "Global Warming" and make it hard for homeowners in areas they don't want people to live in to get property insurance because of the high risk fire area. (emphasis mine)

UPDATE 6/20/24 at 4:13pm: Sorry I didn't elaborate on why the psychos would want insurance to cancel policies in high risk areas? Their ultimate goal is to put us all into 15-minute cities that will be in urban areas. Therefore, they are burning everything down in the outskirts for people to move out of the area. Causing them to want to live in safer areas in town. And those people who refuse to leave the beloved area in the woods, because of their man-made fires, insurance companies are refusing to insure their properties because of the high risk involved OR if they manage to get property insurance the cost for the policy will be outrageously expensive. (emphasis mine)
CBS Austin published April 4, 2024: Texas' Smokehouse Creek Fire sparked by fallen power pole, committee asks why. The Texas House committee investigating the Panhandle fires questioned the absence of a power pole inspector from Osmose at their hearing in Pampa, as a decayed power pole that fell was suspected to have sparked the destructive Smokehouse Creek Fire which burned over 1.1 million acres. 

CBS News, Austin local
written by Adela Uchida
Wednesday April 3, 2024

AUSTIN, Texas — The Texas House committee formed to investigate the Panhandle fires spent the day asking more questions during a hearing held in Pampa.

Hundreds of homes were destroyed by the flames as well as livestock and crops. More than a million acres of the Texas Panhandle are scorched by wildfires – 1.1 million of those acres burned by the Smokehouse Creek Fire alone.

Last month, a Texas A&M Forest Service investigator said a power pole that was decayed at the base fell, sparking the Smokehouse Creek Fire, but today members of the Investigative Committee on the Panhandle Fires asked if something more deliberate happened.

“Where was it chopped?” asked Corpus Christi State Representative Todd Hunter. “It appears it started at the base. It wouldn’t appear to me – it’s as if they removed the dirt and then they do this chopping and once they’re completed they put some kind of wrap around the base.”

This line of questioning centered around a contractor for Xcel Energy called Osmose, which inspects power poles.

“Was there anything else marked on that pole with any tags or anything like that?” Hunter asked “Yes, it was. It was marked with an inspection tag.”

Committee members have not seen a report from Osmose regarding the downed power pole, although Representative Hunter suspects there is one. Osmose was also not at the meeting, although they did send a letter.

“They’ve said in their letter that they can’t attend and they welcome the opportunity to discuss and we’ve got additional questions. So, let’s take them up on the officer and ask if they’ve got any reports,” he said. “well, we will certainly do that Mr. Hunter.”

I reached out to Osmose to find out why they weren’t at the meeting and sent over the following statement.
Osmose is deeply concerned about the profound impact of the Panhandle Wildfires and is committed to assisting with all investigations. Although we were unable to attend the Committee meeting on short notice, we sent the attached letter to the Investigative Committee and offered to meet with its staff to discuss fire mitigation and recommended best practices in the State of Texas.
More Perfect Union published June 12, 2024: We Went to the Texas Panhandle: What We Saw Will Shock You. The Smokehouse Creek fire burned more than one million acres and destroyed countless ranches — and livelihoods. It was the largest wildfire in Texas history. And it caused by corporate negligence and greed. We dug into what happened and how we can hold Xcel Energy, and other utility companies, accountable for starting dangerous and disastrous wildfires.

The Texas Tribune
written by Jayme Lozano Carver
Wedsnesday May 1, 2024

LUBBOCK — A decayed utility pole that broke, causing power wires to fall on dry grass in the Texas Panhandle, sparked the state’s largest wildfire in history, a Texas House committee confirmed Wednesday.

And other poorly maintained power equipment sparked four additional fires across the region earlier this year, the committee said.

The committee also found that a lack of readily available air support, ineffective communication from faulty equipment and coordination among agencies inhibited on-the-ground efforts to contain the Smokehouse Creek fire and others that ravaged the Panhandle earlier this year.

In response, the committee made up of three House members and two landowners recommended the Legislature have more effective monitoring and rule enforcement to check “irresponsible” oil and gas operators and improve accountability with utility providers when it comes to inspecting and replacing power poles.

The 43-page report largely confirmed what was previously established in the days and weeks following the fire. It appeared to rely heavily on testimony from three days of public hearings the committee held in Pampa, a Panhandle town near where the fires raged.

The deadly wildfires disrupted life in the Texas Panhandle after they started in late February. Two people died and more than 1 million acres burned across several counties — Hutchinson, Hemphill, Roberts, Carson, Gray and Wheeler.

The fires caused extensive damage in its wake. The Panhandle region is largely rural, where cattle are known to outnumber residents. More than 85% of the state’s cattle population is located in the Panhandle. Many residents lost everything — 138 homes burned, according to the report, and more than 15,000 head of cattle, including pregnant cows, perished.

Hundreds of water wells were also destroyed as the fires raged through the Panhandle. According to the report, this has eliminated sources of water for people and livestock in the region, creating another hurdle to overcome.

Xcel Energy, a Minnesota-based company that has provided electricity in that portion of the state, previously acknowledged its role in the Smokehouse Creek fire. Following the release of the committee's report, it said they are taking action to mitigate wildfire risk, including updating systems to be more resilient in extreme weather and adjusting wildfire settings on their equipment.

“We care deeply about the Panhandle communities harmed by wildfires,” the company said. “Our people live and work in these same communities.”

The company said it they look forward to working with the Public Utility Commission, the state legislature, members of the public and other agencies in response to the wildfires. Xcel has contracted Osmose Utility Services, a Georgia-based company, to manage its lines in Texas. Both companies have been sued in the aftermath of the fire.

In a statement, Osmose CEO Mike Adams said they have met with King since the hearings.

“We have provided the committee with information regarding our view of best practices for utility pole maintenance and remain available to the committee and our customers in Texas to assist in this area going forward,” Adams said.

According to the report, the pole was inspected in January by Osmose and given a "priority one replacement" designation. On Feb. 9 —weeks before the fires sparked — Osmose notified Xcel that the pole needed to be replaced.

Scott McBroom, a Fritch resident, fled his home when the Windy Deuce Fire breached his neighborhood. McBroom and his wife Deana lost everything. It was his childhood home.

McBroom, who learned about the report’s findings through a Texas Tribune reporter, said he was angry to hear it. He said companies should have done more to maintain the power lines and poles.

“It’s just frustrating because through no fault of your own you end up losing everything,” he said. “It does make you angry because they have been neglecting stuff for a while.”

The family, including their dogs, are living with their daughter in Borger while they figure out what’s next.

Efforts to extinguish the fires showed how flawed the state’s response to emergencies is in vulnerable areas of Texas. Volunteer fire departments were first on the scene, but had poor equipment, including broken radios, due to running on a tight budget. Wind speeds and a lack of availability caused a delay in air support being used as the fire spread.

The committee also called for more resources to contain wildfires before they grow out of control. Their suggestions range from Texas obtaining its own firefighting air fleet, additional funding for volunteer fire departments, and upgrading statewide communications systems for better communication across all responding agencies.

Investigators began looking into poorly-maintained power lines as the cause of the fire in the days after it started. According to the report, wildfires ignited by power lines have been among the most destructive in the region since 2000 — causing more than 1,300 fires and burning more than 1.4 million acres.

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