Good Grief?

A lightning strike sparked a blaze that broke out at the Tata Steel plant in Port Talbot on Thursday.

Isn’t that just the unluckiest thing?

An insured factory which is losing gazillions gets struck by lightning and burns to the ground. How unlucky can people get?

19 thoughts on “Good Grief?”

  1. Reminds me of the old joke about two Jewish chaps.

    Herschel: Oy vey, Hymie, so sorry to hear your factory burned down.
    Hymie: Sssh! That’s next week.

  2. Jewish stereotype 1: My warehouse was destroyed in a flood.
    Jewish stereotype 2: How do you start a flood?

  3. Not very lucky for the Lloyds insurance consortium that presumably insured the plant (unless they’re going to claim the old “Act of God” bullshit)

    Quite fortunate for the shareholders and executives of Tata Steel though.

  4. Still doesn’t beat Charles Saatchi losing his expensive (and heavily insured) collection of modern Britart in a warehouse fire in 2004. That takes some chutzpah.

  5. @ John Galt, Henry Crun etc
    I remember reading about, a dozen or so years ago, a Lloyds syndicate that insisted on rebuilding the factory/warehouse in fulfilment of the exact terms of the policy.
    Allegedly its fire losses dropped thereafter.

  6. Lightning is quite rare in February, isn’t it?

    I certainly didn’t notice any yesterday. Glorious sunny day here IIRC (I don’t usually take much notice what the big blue room is doing), not many miles up the coast from Port Talbot.

  7. as an aside from the Jewish stereotypes, a bloke I know helped HMRC build a fraud detection module in the taxations systems; there were a series of flags built in that could be brought up in the event of unusual circumstances like a mysterious fire leading to a company closing down. The weightings on these were built on the basis of history, experience and successful prosecutions.

    If two particular flags were triggered it pretty much guaranteed an investigation. One was “Greek or Cypriot name” and the other was “works in the rag trade”

  8. Hallowed Be,

    For domestic buildings insurance, it’s normal to cover the rebuild cost, rather than the market value. On the grounds that the former is lower, thus cheaper to cover. No idea about commercial property though.

  9. Looking at the photos in the article it was hard to tell the place was on fire rather than just normal operating, that’s based on that I lived around that area for a while so used to know it well and have even been inside there on a few occasions. Have some relatives still work there (and some that designed parts of it) so no doubt I’ll be hearing more about it this weekend

  10. There are lightning detection networks all over the place – electricity distributors and rail operators (with electrified networks) rely on them. When a storm with a lot of lightning is heading in, crews are put on standby in the area to carry out repairs. In Sydney, the time to restore services went from something like 24 hours to 2 hours after they started doing this. We get our storms late in the day – usually they hit after the crews have gone home for the day. Nowadays, they can warn the crews around 3pm to stay at work, and they authorise the overtime etc in advance. Insurance companies use the historical data to work out whether your crop of wheat was actually burned out by a strike, and whether your expensive TV exploded because a bolt hit your house. Look up “katron lightning”.

  11. There is a company in Portishead that makes lightning detectors. They have a prototype under permanent test that can detect every single strike within about 100 miles. It’s a next-generation, state-of-the-art type thing. If I was an insurance company that was a bit suspicious, I’d give them a call.

  12. Andrew M
    For domestic buildings insurance, it’s normal to cover the rebuild cost, rather than the market value. On the grounds that the former is lower, thus cheaper to cover.

    In theory, unless you live in a listed building etc. In which case the rebuild cost may be higher. But the only way to be sure you have insured for the right value is to employ a surveyor, whose fees may cost more than the premium saved.

  13. I was on the plant when the fire went up. Pretty certain it wasn’t a lightning strike.

    OTOH it also didn’t stop the plant for long, the big fire was actually a (semi) controlled event to get rid of a lot of Carbon monoxide.

    It certainly wasn’t normal procedure in the sense that it hasn’t happened in the last 20 years or so. But they are back up and running today.

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