This story is a staff report from The Paper.

A lawsuit filed this week in the 2nd Judicial District Court alleges PNM should be held liable for starting the McBride Fire in Lincoln County that burned hundreds of homes and killed an elderly couple who did not evacuate.

The fire began April 12 when “high winds foreseeably pushed over a tall pine tree” that landed on PNM utility lines, igniting dry brush and grass below, according to a lawsuit filed by three property owners seeking damages from PNM.

Over 6,000 acres were burned as winds gusted up to 80 mph and extremely dry conditions contributed to the fire’s rapid spread and ferocity. Officials from the Lincoln County Forest Service say the cause of the fire is still under investigation.