Wildfires are ravaging the southwest United States already this year, with the McBride fire affecting the area around Ruidoso, New Mexico and the Hermit’s Peak fire blazing east of Santa Fe, New Mexico. Our team of experienced wildfire lawyers are assisting victims of both wildfires. Visit our resource center below to find out more.
Significant wildfire activity can occur in any area of Texas and New Mexico during the spring and summer months; but, it’s not unheard of for wildfires to start up in the fall and sometimes dry winters as well. This significant fire potential can bring a wildfire outbreak. This high impact weather phenomenon is similar what has caused so many destructive fires caused by the Santa Ana winds and can impact parts of Texas, Oklahoma, and Kansas.
Landowners and residents in Texas, New Mexico, Colorado, Kansas, and Oklahoma suffer the devastation and financial loss caused by wildfires every year. Winds and drought conditions across the area often warn of a bad wildfire season to follow. 2022 is one such year. The United States southwest and mountain west regions have been experiencing, larger, more complex, and more damaging wildfire in recent years.
The wildfire lawyers at Lovell, Lovell, Isern and Farabough can help landowners and families faced with the tremendous losses that often follow wind-driven wildfires. It takes knowledge and experience to determine the cause of a wildfire and investigate which individuals and/or entities are responsible for the resulting damage. Whether negligence, defective products, power line failures, or another cause, our legal team and its experts can investigate to determine the root cause of any wildfire and go after all responsible parties.
Joe Lovell, Kevin Isern, and Brian Farabough lead the firm’s wildfire property damage practice group, working with experienced wildfire experts, engineers, agronomists, arborists, soil experts, and dedicated staff to get you the compensation you deserve for your loss.
Hermits Peak Fire Resource Center
On October 19, we held a Zoom meeting explaining the process of gathering and providing information about your damages to a law firm after the Hermits Peak wildfire.Watch on YouTube
On September 14, 2022, we held a second townhall meeting via Zoom to provide additional information about the legal claims and remedies available to those affected by the Hermits Peak Fire.Watch on YouTube
On July 30, 2022, we held a townhall meeting via Zoom to provide more information about the legal claims and remedies available to those affected by the Hermits Peak Fire.Watch on YouTube
To learn more about the Hermits Peak fire, read our blog post here.
Download a copy of the “Hermits Peak Fire Claims Damage Information Collection Process” Powerpoint presentation here
Joe Lovell was interviewed by Source NM about the fire. Read the article: “Gap in full federal wildfire compensation is imminent”
Download a copy of our household claims questionnaire here
Download our suggested Hermit’s Mutual Understanding Letter to consider submitting along with the Hazardous Debris Removal Program Right of Entry Permit, should you choose to participate in the program here.
Download a copy of the U.S. Forest Service’s Gallinas-Las Dispensas Prescribed Fire Declared Wildfire Review here.
Download a copy of the National Wildfire Coordinating Group Prescribed Fire Plane Template here.
Download a copy of H.R. 7721 here and its amendment here.
McBride / Ruidoso Fire Resource Center
To learn more about the McBride fire, download our brochure here.
Wildfire Property Damage Claims
Loss of life is not the only tragedy to follow wildland fires. The extensive damage to homes and personal belongings goes beyond merely what property insurance might pay. For landowners and business owners, the damages to their grass, buildings, fences, and equipment prevents them from occupying and/or running business operations out of their properties, creating an expensive burden. The damage to fields, crops, and livestock cannot be overcome just because a fire is extinguished, as pastures that once sustained livestock become filled with opportunistic weeds and scrub. Without healthy plant growth, the land suffers increased erosion damage as well. The loss of livestock, fences, equipment, and damage to the land itself require extensive and expensive restoration and remediation. The loss of trees creates special challenges for landowners. In the mountains, homeowners and property owners face the additional risk of mud slides.
Other common losses wildfire damages include:
- Animals – Ranchers can lose their livestock, which will drastically set them back financially. Sometimes, animals will not die from a fire but will get sick from a lack of grass or feed that was burned, leading to expensive costs including vet bills, more animal feed, and more.
- Restoration fees – Restoring fences, equipment, and the land the fire destroyed requires an enormous amount money.
- No healthy plant growth – With no healthy plant growth, the land suffers increased erosion damage.
- Buildings – Homes are not the only buildings that can be lost in a wildfire. Barns, sheds, and other necessary structures needed by ranchers, farmers, and landowners are also affected and often destroyed.
Specialized knowledge of the causes of wildfires, the standards for safe maintenance and operation of electrical power lines, geographical area, agricultural work, and significant legal experience make a difference in how your claims are handled and how much you will be able to recover in terms of financial compensation for your losses. Lovell, Lovell, Isern and Farabough has decades of experience successfully resolving complex legal claims both in and out of court, an unmatched depth of knowledge when it comes to our local and adjacent communities, and available resources to fight for fair recoveries. We have assisted numerous families, homeowners, landowners, and businesses in recovering fair damages for the losses to their property. Our wildfire lawyers can help you in more ways than one.
Examples of Our Wildfire Litigation Experience
Wildfires of 2021 and 2022
Our firm is currently representing families, residents, homeowners, business owners, and ranchers in connection with this season’s wildfires in the Texas Panhandle, Ruidoso, New Mexico, and the Pendaries Community near Las Vegas, New Mexico.
Borger Wildfire – Kathy Ryan and Bill Pfeffer
The Borger Wildfire in March of 2006 caused the tragic loss of 12 lives and burned a path 30 miles wide and 50 miles long. This wildfire was a perfect example of how one faulty powerline to a pumpjack can spark extensive and catastrophic loss. Our firm represented burned-out ranchers and cattlemen located from where the fire started in Carson County (the 6666 Ranch) along the fire’s path to where it was finally stopped – almost 50 miles away – in Hemphill County (the Mendota Ranch).
We also represented the families of two people who died in that fire. Kathy Ryan died a hero while helping rescue her elderly neighbors, Bill and Oleta Pfeffer, who lived at the Borger Greenhouse. Tragically, Kathy and 84-year-old Bill Pfeffer were unable to escape.
The family of Kathy Ryan was determined not to her tragic loss be in vain. In partnership with our firm, the Amarillo Area Foundation, and Kathy Ryan’s children, a fund was set up to benefit volunteer fire departments in the Texas Panhandle. Panhandle volunteer fire departments can find out how to apply for grants from the Kathy Ryan Fund here.
Dumas Wildfire – Elias Macias
In 2011, the Cactus Volunteer Fire Department lost volunteer firefighter Elias Macias when his firetruck was overrun by an April 9th wildfire south of Dumas, Texas. Severe drought and winds contributed to the Dumas wildfire.
Our firm represented the Macias family against the gas producer whose faulty power lines sparked that blaze. Together with Mr. Macias’ family, our firm donated significant funds to the Kathy Ryan Fund to support training programs for firefighters throughout the rural Texas Panhandle.
What to Do After Suffering Property Loss Due to a Wildfire
If your home or business suffers property damage caused by a wildfire, take as many photographs as you can as soon as possible. Repairs and replacement of power lines and other equipment around the area of origin can occur within moments of the fire. Critical pieces of evidence can be (and commonly are) tossed into a post hole or the back of a truck. Take photographs of everything from many different positions, including any vehicles on the scene and their license plates and other identifying information.
To the extent you can, prevent anyone from moving, destroying, or changing things at the scene until it can be adequately investigated. Make notes of everyone you see at the scene and what they did or said. You can contact our firm to discuss getting someone out to the scene to preserve evidence; and, if warranted, our legal team can arrange for a fire investigator to examine the scene.
Keep a list of any major assets that were lost due to wildfire damage, such as a house, any vehicles, and/or expensive equipment. The lawyers at Lovell, Lovell, Isern & Farabough are determined to get you the compensation you deserve for the losses you sustained due to wildfire property damage and even tragic wrongful deaths.
If you or someone you know is affected by a wildfire, you should do whatever is reasonably necessary to safely protect lives and property. Once your physical safety is secured, it is important to act quickly to preserve evidence. Our wildfire lawyers are committed to helping individuals, families, ranchers, farmers, property owners, and businesses recover after a wildfire has left them with burned pastures, ruined trees, killed and maimed livestock, lost income, medical bills, the loss of loved ones, and/or extensive damage to real estate and personal belongings. Contact us for a free and confidential consultation regarding any resulting property loss, injury, or worse that occurred due to a wildfire outbreak.
A plane drops red fire retardant on the 294 Fire, a wildfire affecting almost 11,000 acres of land southeast of Amarillo, TX in 2018.