Jury selection underway in civil case over New Mexico wildfire

BERNALILLO, N.M. (AP) – It will be up to jurors to decide whether two utility companies should be held liable for a 2011 wildfire that destroyed dozens of homes as it raced across more than 240 square miles on its way to becoming one of New Mexico’s largest blazes.

Jury selection began Monday in Bernalillo before state District Judge Louis McDonald. The trial is expected to last six weeks.

The Las Conchas fire started when an aspen tree fell onto power lines that stretched through national forest land in the Jemez Mountains.

Jemez Mountains Electric Cooperative operated and maintained the power lines. Tri-State Generation and Transmission Inc. provides the cooperative with electricity and is also named as a defendant.

There are more than 300 plaintiffs in the case, including property owners and insurance companies.

(Copyright 2015 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

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