McBride Fire Lawsuit

The 2022 McBride wildfires in Ruidoso New Mexico caused death, injuries, and billions and in property damage. Evidence has emerged which suggests that downed power lines and poorly maintained utility lines may have caused this devastating fire. Individuals who suffered injury or loss in the McBride fire in New Mexico can get compensation by filing a McBride fire lawsuit against the responsible utility companies.

The national mass tort lawyers at Miller & Zois are currently seeking new cases from victims of the McBride fires in New Mexico. Call us today at 800-553-8082 for a free consultation.

About the McBride Fire

The McBride fire occurred in April 2022 in the area around the town of Ruidoso, New Mexico. The fire destroyed over 6,000 acres and 200 individual houses. At least 2 people were killed and nearly 5,000 were forced to evacuate their homes. The fire reportedly began after strong winds in the area brought down high voltage power lines and ignited flammable brush and dry vegetation beneath the lines.

The McBride fire was first reported on the afternoon of April 12, 2022. Once the fire started, it was accelerated and spread as a result of abnormally strong winds in the area of 50-60 miles per hours, with gusts of up to 70 mph. The area was going through a period of extreme dryness which also helped to fuel the blaze.

The strong winds in the area prevented firefighters from using helicopters or airplanes to attack the fire from the air during the first few hours. By April 13, however, the winds had subsided enough to allow special planes and helicopters to help fight the blaze. By April 17, 5 days after  the fire began, the evacuation order was lifted and by the first week of May the fire was officially put out.

The town of Ruidoso is Lincoln County, New Mexico. It is at a relatively high elevation and very close to the Lincoln National Forest. The main town of Ruidoso itself was not spared, but the fire came within a just a few hundred feet of the main street in town before it was finally contained.

McBride Fire Lawsuits Filed Against PNM

Individuals who were injured suffered property loss or damage in the McBride fire are now seeking compensation by bringing lawsuits against the utility company PNM. PNM is the primary power utility company in New Mexico. It supplies power to over 500,000 customers in New Mexico, including all of Lincoln Count. PNM owns and operates virtually all of the state’s power grid, including the high voltage power lines that were connected to the McBride fire. Trees, LLC, a subcontractor hired by PNM, has also been named as a defendant in these lawsuits.

According to the lawsuits filed against PNM so far, the McBride fire started when strong winds pushed a pine tree onto PNM’s high voltage power lines. This event allegedly caused an electrical fault to occur resulting in sparks which touched and ignited dry vegetation and debris underneath the lines.

PNM, as the utility company, had a clear duty to maintain and manage these utility lines in a safe manner so as to avoid accidents like this. The lawsuit accuse PNM of completely failing in its obligation to maintain its power grid equipment. Specifically, PNM is accused of the following categories of negligence with respect to the McBride fire:

  • Failing to properly inspect and remediate potentially hazardous and flammable vegetation near PNM power lines
  • Failing to properly repair and install facilities
  • Failing to prevent trees, which were rooted in shallow soils, on a steep slope or in close contact with electric conductors, from falling onto power lines
  • Failing to follow the National Electric Safety Code and industry standards for vegetative management

The lawsuits alleged that PNM also failed to comply with the standards applicable to electric utilities in the State of New Mexico, including those set out at New Mexico Administrative Code§ 17.9.560.13, and National Electric Safety Code 214, amongst others.

The allegations against PNM are very similar to those previously made against other utility companies such as PG&E and, more recently, Hawaiian Electric in connection with the recent wildfires on Maui.

Liability Theories Against PNM

The lawsuits against PNM invoke the legal doctrine of inverse condemnation, which holds government agencies and utilities liable for damages caused to others in the course of business. This is the same legal theory that ultimately forced PG&E, the largest utility in California, into bankruptcy due to $13.5 billion in liabilities over 2019 wildfires in Northern California.

Getting a McBride Wildfire Lawyer

If you believe you may have a viable McBride wildfire lawsuit – either for property damage, personal injury, or wrongful death  – call our lawyers at 800-553-8082 or get a free online consultation online.


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