BEC Negligence Resulted In Fire

A Supreme Court judge has determined that negligence on the part of the Bahamas Electricity Corporation (BEC) caused a fire that destroyed a business 10 years ago.

Golden Harvest Supermarket, which is owned by Abaco Markets Limited, alleged that the June 17, 2001 fire started in BEC’s transformer vault that was located on its property, and spread to the supermarket.

The plaintiffs alleged that three utility transformers belonging to BEC were on the Abaco Markets property adjacent to the rear of the supermarket, and used a part of the supermarket’s exterior wall as the back wall of the transformer vault.

The plaintiffs alleged that BEC’s failure to design its vault in compliance with the Bahamas Building Code caused the fire.

Justice Stephen Isaacs agreed that BEC did not adhere to the requirements of the building code.

He said, “It is accepted that BEC owes a duty of care to the public in respect of the manner of provision of electricity to the public.

“From the evidence, the installations of the transformers in the vault that existed, considering its construction and location, was certainly careless.  Saving costs cannot be the deciding factor when dealing with the supply of electricity.  BEC’s conduct is therefore directly connected to the injury suffered by the plaintiff.

“Had the vault complied with Regulation 3901 of the Building Code it would not have been in the location that it was in, and any fire inside the vault would not have spread to the store.  In my judgment there was clearly a breach of BEC’s common law duty to exercise the greatest possible care and to use every possible precaution for the plaintiff.”