NEW MEXICO (KRQE) — More homeowners are suing PNM for the McBride fire that took out more than 200 homes in Ruidoso. The lawsuit includes 36 plaintiffs—all of whom claim the McBride Fire damaged their property. The lawsuit alleges the fire was caused by the negligence of PNM and Trees, LLC—a company paid to keep trees away from the power lines there.
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The fire burned more than 200 homes and claimed the life of two people. In addition to the fire damage, residents in the area continue to be affected by burn scar flooding.
The suit includes two counts of negligence, one count of trespass, one count of private and public nuisance, and one count of inverse condemnation.
“The lead plaintiffs, in this case, lost their home and suffered massive amounts of erosion damage in addition to tree losses. You have other people who fortunately had their homes spared but because the trees and all of the undergrowth burned, you have severe erosion damages and in many cases that’s making their homes uninhabitable,” says Gerald Singleton, a lawyer on this case with Singleton and Schreiber, LLP.
The lawsuit claims the fire started in April after the wind blew a tree on a steep incline into a PNM power line. The lawsuit alleges the fire was preventable if PNM and Trees, LLC had properly maintained the lines and cleared all the trees and brush from around them.
“The hope is that we can get a trial date within 12 to 18 months because once you get that, then it puts pressure on both sides to really take a long hard look at the damages, assess the risk, and then begin to resolve the cases,” Singleton says. Singleton says it could be around two years before the majority of plaintiffs see any type of compensation.
Singleton says there may be four to five hundred plaintiffs once all is said and done. KRQE News 13 reached out to PNM and Trees, LLC for statements on this lawsuit, but has not received a response.
In May, three Texans who lost their vacation homes also filed a lawsuit against PNM and the same tree company making similar claims of negligence.
According to the official website for the McBride Fire, the official cause of the McBride Fire is still under investigation.