Texas House committee hears public testimony over Panhandle wildfire

Osmose Utilities Services, which was in charge of inspecting utility poles, including the one that started the fire, was not in attendance.

By Alexandra HartApril 5, 2024 1:44 pm, ,

This week a committee of Texas House members heard testimony from members of the public over the deadly wildfires that tore through the Texas Panhandle earlier this year. Witnesses in attendance at the hearings, held in Pampa, were residents, ranchers, firefighters and state officials. 

They had Nim Kidd, the head of the Texas Division of Emergency Management, who was essentially saying that the state needs a firefighting aircraft division, saying it would cost about $50 million to get six crafts,” said Matthew Watkins, managing editor for news and politics at the Texas Tribune. 

Also notable was who wasn’t in attendance: the contractor hired by Xcel Energy to inspect utility poles in the area.

Osmose Utilities Services, which is in charge of inspecting the utility poles up there, the broken utility pole blamed for starting the fire, they did not show up at the hearing, even though they were asked to come testify,” Watkins said. “Lawmakers were not very happy about that.”

A report on the investigation is expected to be released on May 1.

For more stories from the week in Texas politics, listen to the audio player above.