NEW YORK(CBSNewYork) — On Long Island, next door neighbors are outraged that PSEG is refusing to pay for thousands of dollars of damage caused by a power line falling and setting their backyards on fire.
“This tree here is now dead because of it,” Suzanne Marciano explained.
Marciano of Wantagh, doesn’t recognize her backyard anymore. In September a clamp gave way on a power line and fell, igniting the yard in flames. Suzanne’s fiance raced to put the fire out.
“I went around the side of the house and grabbed a hose. I sprayed the hose and I got a huge electrical shock,” Lawrence Rubin said.
Photos taken by the couple afterward show how the flames chewed up their fence, and they say the electrical fire even traveled below ground.
“We had just spent a fortune on underground lighting, so it ignited the wires in the in-ground lighting,” Marciano said.
On the other side of the fence, neighbor Lawrence Melilli saw even more damage to his property. A fence was completely destroyed, along with more than a dozen trees that were badly burned, and exterior damage to a shed.
Melilli said the damage was made worse because firefighters had to stand by.
“It took PSEG over an hour to get her to shut the electric down so the fire department could put the fire out,” he said.
The real shock came when Rubin received a letter from PSEG Long Island rejecting their claim for damages. It read in part, “should the supply of service be interrupted from causes beyond its control, LIPA will not be liable. Therefore, it is with regret we must decline reimbursement of your loss.”
A PSEG Long Island spokesman explained that under its contract the utility can not be held responsible because the power line failure could not have been predicted.
“How could they be not held liable for equipment that they’re supposed to maintain because we’re paying them for their electricity,” Melilli said.
“They damage our property and now they don’t want to know us,” Marciano said.
Both neighbors are now planning to sue PSEG Long Island. They say between them the power line caused more than $25,000 in damage.