Village of Ruidoso files lawsuit blaming PNM for McBride Fire

RUIDOSO, N.M. — The McBride Fire burned for weeks – killing two people, destroying more than 200 homes and forcing evacuations.

More than a year later, a lawsuit has been filed by the Village of Ruidoso against PNM and a tree company hired by PNM to maintain trees in the Ruidoso area. The lawsuit points to a tree that fell on a PNM power line, starting the McBride Fire.

According to the Village of Ruidoso, the defendants were aware that parts of the state were in drought, that wildfires have been caused by utility lines contacting vegetation in New Mexico, and that fire danger was at an extraordinarily high level.

Attorney Joe Lovell represents victims of the McBride Fire in a separate lawsuit filed last year. KOB 4 spoke to him last May.

The Ruidoso lawsuit lists a long list of damages – from loss of natural resources and tourism, to the costs of repairing roadways.

A PNM spokesperson shared the following statement with KOB 4:

“Public reports have noted a tree spanning approximately 50 feet tall that was outside of our right-of-way had contacted a powerline due to extremely high winds with reported gusts of up to 90 miles per hour.”

PNM proactively employs vegetation management and wildfire mitigation practices that comply with applicable authorities.