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Vandals set fire to LIME cell site

Published:Sunday | April 22, 2012 | 4:00 PM

Telecommunication company LIME says vandals have set fire to its cell site in Bernard Lodge, St. Catherine, destroying the transmission equipment as well as the power generator.

According to LIME it will cost $16 million to restore the site.

The culprits stuffed the equipment with numerous pieces of cardboard then set them ablaze destroying the cabinets containing the mobile transmission machinery, which LIME says are valued at more than $10 million, as well as electrical equipment at the site.

The fire also ruined a brand new ElectraGen fuel cell, a “green” power generating system which LIME recently installed at the facility.

The company has been using ElectraGen units at some of its sites because the machines are more energy efficient and environmentally friendly than traditional generators.

LIME was also switching to ElectraGen energy systems in an attempt to reduce vandalism of its cell sites.

LIME says the replacement of the system will cost more than $3.7 million.

LIME’s Vice President Service Support & Delivery, Howard Mollison said the destruction of the company’s equipment has never been so extensive.

“As a company with an extensive outside plant we mostly have to contend with theft related vandalism; but this was ruinous and destructive,” he said.

“We have seen instances where fires have accidentally started because thieves disturb electrical equipment while trying to steal fuel from the generators, but this fire was deliberately and systematically set,” he added.

In recent years the company has grappled with the repeated theft of fuel from its generators but the use of the hydrogen-powered ElectraGen was expected to significantly alleviate that problem.

“The fire destroyed our Base Transmission Station, the power infrastructure, the fuel cell and all the transmission equipment,” Mollison said.

This was a deliberate and wanton act of criminality and we are unaware of what motivated the attack.”