Cision PR Newswire

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

RUIDOSO, N.M., Aug. 5, 2022 /PRNewswire/ -- Leading fire litigation firm Singleton Schreiber filed a lawsuit against PNM Resources (PNM) alleging the utility company 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;
  • And much more.

"The list of ways PNM Resources mismanaged this entire process is extensive, egregious, and ultimately dangerous," said Gerald Singleton, Managing Partner of Singleton Schreiber. "Had PNM followed standard procedure, this horrific fire would never have occurred. Their negligence in managing their equipment, facilities and the vegetation which fueled this nightmare is unforgivable."

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.

"PNM's failure to abide by state laws during repairs, construction and maintenance put the public at risk," said Singleton Schreiber's Vern Payne, the Former Chief Justice of the New Mexico Supreme Court. "Making matters worse, they were made aware of these dangerous conditions and their subsequent behavior actually contributed to the size and spread of this fire."

The case is Dennis R. Pyle, et al. v. PNM Resources, Trees, Inc., County of Bernalillo Second Judicial District Court, Case No. D-202-CV-8478111.

About Singleton Schreiber

With more than 100 employees and offices throughout the western United States, Singleton and his team have represented more than 10,000 victims of utility fires and has recovered approximately $1 billion in settlements and verdicts for its clients. The firm currently represents thousands of victims of the numerous fires in New Mexico, California, and Oregon. For more information, please visit https://singletonschreiber.com/mcbride-fire-lawyer/.

CONTACT: Joe Marchelewski, jmarchelewski@gmail.com

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SOURCE Singleton Schreiber