Seventeen families whose Breezy Point, Queens, homes were destroyed in a fire during Hurricane Sandy are accusing the Long Island Power Authority of negligence for failing to shut off power in the area during the storm. Notices of claim were filed on behalf of the families by Sullivan, Papain, Block, McGrath & Cannavo. According to the notices, flooding on the Rockaway Peninsula from a storm surge on Oct. 29 touched electrical systems, resulting in short circuits and fires. Other utilities such as Con Edison cut off power to areas expected to flood, the claimants said, but LIPA, a state-operated agency that manages Long Island’s power grid, did not. "If they shut off the power elsewhere, they certainly didn’t do it in Rockaway," Sullivan Papain partner Andrew Carboy said in an interview. "They should have shut it off for the entire strip."
Read a sample notice of claim.
James Long, a spokesman for the New York Fire Department, confirmed the power had been on in Breezy Point when the fire started. "It’s not just that it was left on," he said. "It was the rising water interacting with the electricity that caused the fire." A LIPA spokesman said the utility had reviewed the notices of claim but had no comment.
Each claimant is requesting at least $1 million in damages. The homes range in value from $500,000 to $900,000, not including their contents, and are a mix of primary residences and vacation homes. More than 120 homes were razed in the fire. Sullivan Papain expects to file several dozen more notices on behalf of Sandy victims in Belle Harbor and elsewhere on the Rockaway Peninsula.