NY condo owners stuck paying for rebuild after fire allegedly caused by National Grid

By Deborah Goonan, Independent American Communities


Five years ago, a gas leak caused an explosion and fire that leveled several units at 65 Feller Drive, Building U, Windbrooke Homes condominiums.  At the time, the New York Post reported that an employee of National Grid, a gas and electric utility company, was found to have failed to follow proper safety protocol while repairing a water heater.

The same unnamed employee was also connected to a gas explosion that destroyed a single family home in 2011.

National Grid worker linked to two Long Island gas explosions: probe

By Bill Sanderson March 9, 2014 | 12:49am

A single bumbling National Grid employee worked on two natural-gas hookups before they were involved in massive explosions on Long Island in 2011 and 2012, a just-completed state Public Service Commission investigation found.

National Grid faces maximum fines of between $2 million and $4 million for the bungler’s safety violations and for failing to send him for drug and alcohol testing after the second blast, a PSC spokesperson said.

Officials won’t release the technician’s name, and National Grid won’t say if he’s still on the payroll.

Together, the blasts caused more than $4 million in property damage, officials say. They caused minor injuries to more than 20 people and could be heard miles away.

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Also in 2014, Habitat Magazine featured Windbrooke Condo Association, in an article entitled  How to Get Condo Deadbeats To Pay: One Board’s Successful Strategy. The strategy – lien and foreclosure for nonpayment of assessments.

At the time, Windbrooke had still not rebuilt the units that were destroyed by the gas explosion and massive fire.

Eventually, the condo association was able to rebuild the leveled condo units, and residents moved back into their new homes.

Long Island News 12 recently reported that the condo association hs issued a $1,700 per unit special assessment to cover the costs of reconstruction. Fairfield Properties claims the money is needed to proceed with necessary maintenance for the Association.

It is unclear if Windbrooke had adequate insurance coverage at the time of the accidental fire, if there was a high deductible, or if the Association’s insurance claim was denied in part for some reason.

A letter to one Windbrooke unit owner, featured on News12, explains that the Association is involved in multiple lawsuits involving National Grid, seeking full reimbursement of its cost to rebuild.

But there are no guarantees that Windbrooke Association will be able to recover those costs, in whole or in part, as a result of pending litigation.

As reported on News 12, many condo owners live on fixed income or disability income, so $1,700 is a financial hardship for some residents. Condo owners are understandably upset, especially since they know that Windbrooke proceeded to foreclose on dozens of liens in 2014.

Bottom line: Condo owners fear losing their homes, due to no fault of their own.


Central Islip condo residents asked to foot bill after massive fire

Posted: Sep 15, 2017 3:34 PM EDT
Updated: Sep 15, 2017 5:59 PM EDT

News 12 Long Island

Residents in a Central Islip condo community are upset they have to foot the bill to replace some homes that burned down, even though the fire was not their fault.

A massive fire destroyed several units at Windbrooke Homes five years ago. They have since been reconstructed, and the management company is making residents pay for the cost of reconstruction.

Residents say they received a memo from Fairfield Properties stating the fire was caused by an employee of National Grid.

“They increased our payments by…$1,700. One time payments. Some of these people are on disability, pension, retirement, some are infirmed. But they have to pay it or else,” says John Sanchez, of Central Islip. “These people aren’t going to be able to pay it and National Grid gets away with it scot free.”

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