Lawsuit claims negligence led to Friendship explosion, fire

By Stephen Betts | Jun 18, 2018
Photo by: Beth A. Birmingham Firefighters work to contain a blaze caused by a propane tank explosion July 8, 2016, on Harbor Road in Friendship.

Rockland — An insurance company has filed a lawsuit against a local heating company and the owner of the tanks, claiming their negligence led to an explosion and fire in 2016 that heavily damaged a Friendship home.

The Warren company denies any negligence and has asked the court to dismiss the lawsuit.

The Concord Group Insurance Cos. of Concord, N.H., filed the lawsuit last month in Knox County court against Mark's Appliance & Heating of Warren; and against Suburban Propane Partners, LP of Whippany, N.J.

The lawsuit claims that Mark's Appliance was the supplier and serviced the two 100-gallon propane cylinders at the home of Edna and Ernest Simmons on Harbor Road in Friendship.

The lawsuit further alleges that there was a requirement that Suburban inspect the tanks every five years. The last inspection by Suburban was in January 2011, according to the insurance company lawsuit.

Mark's Appliance inspected the tanks May 12, 2016.

On July 6, the Simmonses detected a gas leak. On July 8, there was an explosion and fire that damaged a substantial part of their house.

A state fire marshal investigator reported the fire resulted from a propane tank that had a hole in it and leaked, then was ignited by a switch on a nearby water pump.

The lawsuit claims negligence and breach of contract. The tanks had corroded and rusted and there was a hole in one of them, according to the lawsuit. The insurance company is represented by attorney Jacques Parenteau of Framingham, Mass.

In its response filed in court earlier this month, Mark's Appliance denies the claims and states that if it is found liable, it can seek indemnification from Suburban.

Attorney Frederick Moore of Portland represents Mark's Appliance.

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