Some of Hurricane Sandy's worst damage in the New York area was done not by wind, not by water, but by fire. In the Queens neighborhood of Breezy Point, a conflagration spread to more than a hundred homes as firefighters struggled to overcome floodwaters and fight the blaze.
Now, homeowners are suing the power companies they say should shoulder the blame, according to a New York Daily News report ("Lawsuit blames Long Island Power Authority, National Grid for Breezy Point Sandy fires," by Daniel Beekman). "The 120 plaintiffs say fire marshals have confirmed the blazes started when seawater hurled ashore by Sandy came into contact with electrical systems," the paper reports. "Had LIPA and National Grid acted responsibly in preparing for the storm … these two communities would not look like a war-zone," said lawyer Keith Sullivan. The utility shut off power to Fire Island, on the south shore of Long Island, avoiding electrical fires in that location — and should have done the same at Breezy Point, the lawsuit argues.
The latest lawsuit is the second targeting utilities in the Breezy Point fire, Newsday notes ("More Breezy Point lawsuits target LIPA, National Grid," by Mark Harrington). "Earlier this year, a law firm representing 18 residents filed suit against the utilities, making similar allegations. Another 20 residents have signaled their intention to file suit, bringing the total to 158," the paper reports.
The power companies aren't ready to cave in, however. LIPA spokesman Mark Gross said, "The actions taken during Sandy were reasonable and appropriate, and we do not believe the claims have merit."