Alert: Colorado Wildfires – December 2021

On the morning of Thursday, December 30, 2021, wildfires began racing across the Superior and Louisville areas of Boulder County, Colorado, northwest of Denver, with remarkable speed. The fires were fanned by extremely high winds, said to be up to 100 miles per hour, and were fueled by grass and brush dried out from an exceptionally dry summer and fall.

At least 500 homes – and possibly up to 1,000 homes – were destroyed. Tens of thousands of people were under an evacuation order. By the evening of December 31, snow had begun to fall, and the winds had lightened, which enabled emergency personnel to control the fires. Although the earliest reports suggested that the fires were caused by downed power lines, more recent reports suggest the possibility that the fires originated on private property near the intersection of Marshal Road and El Dorado Road in Boulder, Colorado. The local sheriff’s office has been cautious not to state any conclusions prematurely, and the cause of the fires is still under investigation.

Whenever there is any potential power line involvement in a wildfire, and the power line is owned by a governmental or public entity with the power of eminent domain, inverse condemnation may provide a means of recovery for damages caused by the fire. Notably, however, recovery under this theory in wildfire cases is more challenging in Colorado than, for example, California, because to recover in Colorado, the event or “taking” that causes a fire must be for a public purpose.

Stutman Law’s subrogation investigation and evaluation of the December 2021 Colorado Wildfires is underway.  As a subrogation-only law firm, Stutman Law continues to be a leader in the insurance industry for investigating and litigating large mass tort events.  For more information on the Colorado Wildfires, email and a member of Stutman Law’s Mass Tort Response Team will contact you.