SAN MIGUEL COUNTY, N.M. (KRQE) – The family of three Texans who were killed by flooding following the Hermits Peak/Calf Canyon Fire in New Mexico last year filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the federal government and the U.S. Forest Service.
Betty Greenhaw, her daughter Linda Jane Cummings, and Jane’s husband Jimmy Chris Cummings, were visiting their family cabin near Las Vegas, New Mexico when they were caught in the flash flooding on the burn scar in San Miguel County.
The lawsuit filed on Oct. 11, 2023, alleges the Forest Service was negligent in the management of the prescribed burn and also failed to close roads and prevent access to areas at risk for flooding. The Forest Service is also accused of failing to warn the victims about the dangers caused by the fire and the dangers of potential flooding in the area.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture, which is the parent agency of the Forest Service, has not provided a settlement offer or a denial to the family’s claims, according to the lawsuit.
The Hermits Peak Fire started on April 6, 2022. Originally, the fire started as a prescribed burn and spun out of control. It then combined with another fire named the Calf Canyon Fire. That fire started when a Forest Service burn from January reignited in April.
Combined, the Hermits Peak/Calf Canyon Fire ranks as the largest wildfire in New Mexico’s history. In total, the blaze consumed 341,735 acres of land, destroyed hundreds of buildings, and uprooted many New Mexicans.