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Lawsuit Filed Against PNM Resources Alleges Utility Company Responsible For McBride Fires

Aug. 8, 2022
The complaint was filed on behalf of dozens of plaintiffs who owned property in and near Ruidoso, New Mexico.

A fire litigation firm has filed a lawsuit against PNM Resources, alleging that the utility is responsible for the McBride Fires, which were ignited by its poorly maintained electric wires. The lawsuit also names the utilities' vegetation management contractor, Trees, Inc.

The complaint was filed on behalf of dozens of plaintiffs who owned property in and near Ruidoso, New Mexico. Plaintiffs' property was destroyed when the 6,000+ acre fire tore through the area earlier this year.

According to the complaint, high winds pushed a pine tree onto PNM's utility lines, which caused an electrical fault that ignited dry vegetation and debris. As it was PNM's duty to manage these utility lines, easements and other right of way issues, PNM is accused of completely failing in its obligation to maintain its equipment. The resulting disaster caused tens of millions of dollars' worth of damage in Lincoln County alone according to the assessor's office.

Specifically, PNM is accused of the following negligent behavior:

  • Failing to properly inspect and report hazardous vegetation in and around PNM facilities;
  • Failing to properly repair, maintain, install and operate facilities in and around hazardous vegetation;
  • Failing to properly protect facilities from tall trees which were often rooted in shallow soils, on a steep slope or in close contact with electric conductors;
  • Failing to perform timely inspections as well as identify and deal with trees, brush and vegetation;
  • Failing to follow the National Electric Safety Code and industry standards for vegetative management.

According to the complaint, PNM 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 case isDennis R. Pyle, et al. v. PNM Resources, Trees, Inc., County of Bernalillo Second Judicial District Court, Case No. D-202-CV-8478111.

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