Sunday, November 01, 2015

New Mexico Jury Holds Utility Companies Partially Liable for Fire

A jury decided this week that two utility companies hold most of the liability in one of the largest wildfires in New Mexico’s recorded history. Jurors gave their verdict in Bernalillo following a weekslong trial that centered on whether Jemez Mountains Electric Cooperative and Tri-State Generation and Transmission Inc. did enough to prevent the Las Conchas fire in 2011. The blazed started when an aspen tree fell onto power lines that stretched through national forest land in the Jemez Mountains. The fire raced across the southern edge of the mountain range, charring more than 240 square miles. 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 the tribes. Jurors in Sandoval County District Court found the cooperative was 75 percent negligent for the wildfire, Tri-State 20 percent and the U.S. Forest Service 5 percent. Possible damage amounts will be determined at a later trial...more

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