Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Jury selection begins in civil case over New Mexico wildfire

It will be up to jurors to decide whether two utility companies should be held liable for one of the largest wildfires in New Mexico's recorded history. Jury selection began Monday in Bernalillo before state District Judge Louis McDonald, and the process could take at least three days. The trial is expected to last six weeks. The Las Conchas fire was sparked the afternoon of June 26, 2011, when an aspen tree fell onto power lines running through national forest land in the Jemez Mountains. Fueled by strong winds and tinder-dry vegetation, it burned the equivalent of an acre a second in the first 13 hours alone. The fire raced across the southern edge of the mountain range, scorching a total of more than 240 square miles of forest over the next month. It destroyed dozens of homes, threatened one of the nation's premier government laboratories and blackened nearly two-thirds of Bandelier National Monument along with areas held sacred by Native American tribes...more 

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