- The Washington Times - Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Attorneys representing 120 plaintiffs whose New Jersey homes burned to the ground during a freak Superstorm Sandy fire have filed a lawsuit, accusing the electric company of negligence when it failed to cut off power despite rising seawater levels.

About 150 homes in the Breezy Point and Rockaway Beach regions were gutted in the October blaze that erupted as hurricane level rains pounded the East Coast.

Fire investigators found the fire was sparked after ocean water came into contact with the homes’ electrical systems — and the attorneys are arguing that the blaze could have been prevented if the utility company had taken proper storm precautions and killed the power, NBC reported.

“Had [Long Island Power Authority’ and National Grid] acted responsibly in preparing for the storm, my clients would be living in their homes with all of their life’s possessions, and these two communities would not look like a war zone,” said Keith Sullivan, one of the attorneys for the homeowners, in an NBC report.

The suit was filed in a Queens, N.Y., court. Mr. Sullivan estimated the damage from the fire cost homeowners about $80 million, NBC said. The suit doesn’t specify the exact damages, however.

“Electricity and salt water is a deadly combination,” he said, NBC reported. “We would have thought the power companies knew this already.”

A spokesman for LIPA said the claims had no merit, NBC said.

• Cheryl K. Chumley can be reached at cchumley@washingtontimes.com.

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