Fires can cause enormous damage in just a few minutes, but uncovering where responsibility for them lies is a laborious task that can take years. In one case, the High Court pointed the finger of blame at an electrical fault in a drinks vending machine almost eight years after a blaze gutted a college building.
The college sued the company that had installed the machine. However, the company argued that the true cause of the fire was an electrical fault in the building’s roof void. Both theories were backed up by evidence from eminent fire investigation experts who were able to view CCTV footage of the fire breaking out.
Following a five-day trial, the Court preferred the college’s evidence and found on the balance of probabilities that the vending machine was the cause of the fire. The ageing machine had not been maintained often or carefully enough and it was not sufficiently safe or durable to be of satisfactory quality. The college was awarded £265,008 in damages, before interest.