What To Do If You’re Impacted By The McBride Fire

What To Do If You're Impacted By The McBride Fire

On April 12, 2022, the McBride fire started in the early afternoon on Warrior Drive in Ruidoso, New Mexico. With dry and windy weather conditions fanning the flames, the fire quickly spread into residential areas. The damage to property and loss of life has been devastating, affecting more than 6,000 acres, hundreds of homes, businesses, and other structures, and causing at least two fatalities.

One utility company may be responsible for this deadly and destructive fire. PNM is New Mexico’s largest energy provider, which failed to act in the best interest of residents by disregarding hazardous vegetation, which led to the fire.

Timeline of Events

The McBride fire was first reported around 2:30 pm on April 12, burning on the north side of Warrior Drive. Several Ruidoso schools and surrounding residential areas were quickly evacuated. Fire crews, helicopters, and a Type 1 incident management team were requested due to the fire’s rapid spread. By the morning of April 16, 23 fire engines, three helicopters, and almost 300 personnel were assigned to combat the devastating fire.

Windy and dry conditions caused the fire to spread quickly, blackening more than 6,000 acres and destroying over 200 homes by April 16, when the majority of evacuation orders were lifted.

Who is Responsible for the McBride Wildfire?

Utility companies understand the dangers vegetation – including trees, grass, shrubs, and any other plant life – presents to electrical equipment. Electrical equipment has the potential to start fires at any time, and – coupled with severe drought conditions like those affecting New Mexico – is even more dangerous when not properly maintained.

Part of the maintenance that equipment requires includes ensuring vegetation is properly trimmed and managed so it does not pose a danger. Trees can interfere with electricity, and hazardous vegetation poses a clear fire threat.

According to a report from the New Mexico Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources Department, strong, gusty winds knocked down a 50-foot tree that landed on PNM powerlines. This caused electrical lines to arc and ignited the McBride Fire.

“The investigation determined that the McBride Fire started due to a ponderosa pine tree coming into contact with a (PNM) power distribution line, causing a wildfire to ignite in the seasonally dried grasses, shrubs, and timber,” Scott Chalmers, the agency’s wildland fire investigator, wrote in the June 29 report.

A New Mexico Forestry Division employee who examined the fallen tree found evidence that it was “drought stressed” and had a shallow tap root, indicating extreme instability, especially in a gusty and wind-prone area.

As a part of our lawsuit against PNM, we allege that both PNM and its contracted landscaping vendor, Trees, Inc., left the hazardous 50-foot-tall pine tree on a steep slope above PNM’s electric lines, knowing it posed a clear and imminent risk of falling onto the lines and starting a fire. Given this known danger, we further allege the tragic McBride Fire was a foreseeable event, and that PNM should be held liable for their negligence and the destruction it caused.

What To Do If You Were Affected

Anyone affected by the McBride Fire is encouraged to contact an experienced wildfire lawyer at Lovell, Lovell, Isern & Farabough, L.L.P. for a free and confidential consultation. Additionally, our attorneys are holding town hall meetings to discuss what steps you should take if your family, business, and/or properties were harmed, damaged, or destroyed in the McBride Fire. A virtual town hall meeting will occur via Zoom on Tuesday, September 20, 2022, at 5:30pm (MT). Details for logging in are below:

Zoom ID: 550 659 9472
Passcode: 1515
Audio Only: 346-248-7799

An in-person town hall meeting is set for Saturday, October 1, 2022, at 10:30 am (MT) at the Ruidoso Civic Center, located at 11 Sierra Blanca Drive in Ruidoso, New Mexico.

These town hall meetings will be a presentation of information concerning the possible legal claims resulting from the McBride Fire and a discussion of how we can help hold those responsible accountable for the damage they caused. Some of our experts will be on hand, including our arborist, who will discuss details related to the fallen tree. To RSVP, please email caitlin@lovell-law.net or call 806-373-1515.

Wildfire Attorneys for the McBride Fire

This isn’t the first time Ruidoso residents have lived through this nightmare. A decade ago, the area was the site of another wildfire that claimed more than 240 homes and nearly 70 square miles of forest. It was the most destructive wildfire in New Mexico’s recorded history at the time and was ignited by a lightning spark. Because of ongoing severe droughts, warmer temperatures, and lower humidity, the area continues to be prone to risks of severe wildfires and every precaution should have been taken to prevent destructive fires. Our lawsuit representing victims of the McBride Fire alleges that PNM knew of the risks and failed to act in the interest of public safety.

With decades of experience representing property owners and fire victims, Joe Lovell and Brian Farabough lead the firm’s wildfire property damage practice group. As part of our investigation, we are working with experienced wildfire experts, engineers, appraisers, agronomists, arborists, soil experts, and more to prove PNM is responsible for the devastating losses incurred in the McBride Fire and to get our clients the compensation they deserve. If you were harmed, we’re here to help. Contact us today to learn more.

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Talk to a member of our legal team today. We are Board Certified in Oil, Gas and Mineral Law; Civil Trial Law; and Personal Injury Trial Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization. We have won awards including Texas Super Lawyers Rising Stars in Energy & Natural Resources and Texas Super Lawyers in General Litigation and Personal Injury. Many of us are rated AV Preeminent by Martindale-Hubbell – the highest possible rating for ethics and skill in our industry. All communication is kept confidential and private.