You can now read 5 articles in a month for free on BostonGlobe.com. Read as much as you want anywhere and anytime for just 99¢.

Insurer files lawsuit after Hampton Beach fire

HAMPTON, N.H. — The insurer for a business at New Hampshire’s Hampton Beach has sued a utility, saying a February 2010 fire that destroyed a block of businesses was sparked by an electrical glitch.

The lawsuit says that before the fire, an electrical fault occurred in a line owned by Unitil. It says the fault caused an electrical conduit, which was attached to the Surf Hotel, to heat up and spark the fire.

Continue reading below

The Portsmouth Herald reported that the lawsuit was filed in Rockingham Superior Court on behalf of Lloyd’s of London. The insurer seeks reimbursement of nearly $33,000 paid to Decalomania, a clothing business. The suit says water pumped during the fire damaged Decalomania’s assets.

Unitil was reckless and breached its duty to use reasonable care when maintaining the electrical line, the insurer alleges in the lawsuit. Unitil also had exclusive control over the service lines and poles, while Decalomania did not cause or contribute to the fire, the suit says.

Unitil spokesman Alec O’Meara said the utility company is aware of the lawsuit, is reviewing it, and ‘‘will be responding in the courts.’’

Fire officials say the cause of the fire remains unknown.

‘‘We know the area of origin; that was clear,’’ Hampton Fire Chief Chris Silver said. He described that area as the rear underside of the Surf Hotel.

The fire began before midnight Feb. 25, 2010, as the region bore the brunt of a slow-moving winter storm that unleashed heavy snow, rain, and hurricane-force winds across the Northeast. More than 1 million homes and businesses lost power.

The highest wind reported during the storm was 91 miles per hour — well above hurricane force of 74 miles per hour — several miles offshore from Portsmouth.

The block of five, wood-frame buildings, including the Happy Hampton Arcade and Mrs. Mitchell’s Gift Shop, burned until the early morning hours of Feb. 26. All five of those buildings were declared a total loss, while a dozen other buildings were damaged. Some businesses rebuilt.

Loading comments...
Subscriber Log In

You have reached the limit of 5 free articles in a month

Stay informed with unlimited access to Boston’s trusted news source.

  • High-quality journalism from the region’s largest newsroom
  • Convenient access across all of your devices
  • Today’s Headlines daily newsletter
  • Subscriber-only access to exclusive offers, events, contests, eBooks, and more
  • Less than 25¢ a week
Marketing image of BostonGlobe.com
Marketing image of BostonGlobe.com
Already a subscriber?
Your city. Your stories. Your Globe.
Yours FREE for two weeks.
Enjoy free unlimited access to Globe.com for the next two weeks.
Limited time only - No credit card required!
BostonGlobe.com complimentary digital access has been provided to you, without a subscription, for free starting today and ending in 14 days. After the free trial period, your free BostonGlobe.com digital access will stop immediately unless you sign up for BostonGlobe.com digital subscription. Current print and digital subscribers are not eligible for the free trial.
Thanks & Welcome to Globe.com
You now have unlimited access for the next two weeks.
BostonGlobe.com complimentary digital access has been provided to you, without a subscription, for free starting today and ending in 14 days. After the free trial period, your free BostonGlobe.com digital access will stop immediately unless you sign up for BostonGlobe.com digital subscription. Current print and digital subscribers are not eligible for the free trial.