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Texas Energy Company Settles Fatal Fire Claims

DALLAS (CN) - A gas company settled claims brought by the widow of a volunteer firefighter who was killed in a 2011 wildfire that scorched 30,000 acres in Texas.

Elias Jaquez had responded to the fire outside Amarillo as a member of the Cactus Volunteer Fire Department.

In a May 2011 complaint, his widow, Josephine Macias, claimed that the grass and vegetation in Potter County had been ignited by the electrical wiring, equipment and distribution system maintained by Pioneer Natural Gas Co.

Jaquez sustained third-degree burns over 60 percent of his body while fighting the fire, the complaint alleged. The father of four died after spending 100 days at University Medical Center in Lubbock, where he underwent several surgeries.

"In the considerable time before his death, Mr. Jaquez suffered intense fear, torment, despair and emotional suffering as the fire approached," the complaint stated. "Mr. Jaquez continued to suffer intense fear, torment, despair, emotional suffering and physical pain as he was overcome and engulfed by the fire. Mr. Jaquez continued to suffer from intense fear, emotional suffering and physical pain for the eleven day period that he fought for his life in the Burn Unit."

Macias accused Pioneer of negligence in designing, construction, inspecting and operating the electrical distribution system, and for failing to take "reasonable measures" that would have prevented the fire from spreading.

On April 19, Judge Tonya Parker signed an agreed final judgment to settlement that the parties reached. Terms of the settlement were not disclosed.

Cactus is located approximately 55 miles north of Amarillo and 420 miles northwest of Dallas.

Macias is represented by Tim Newsom with Lovell Lovell in Amarillo. Pioneer is represented by Thomas Riney with Riney Mayfield in Amarillo.

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