Call for legislation change

Swan View Bush Fire Evacuation Centre resident information meeting attendees. Inset: Matthew Leverington.
Swan View Bush Fire Evacuation Centre resident information meeting attendees. Inset: Matthew Leverington.

The Traylen Road resident lashed out at Western Power representatives at Tuesday’s meeting of evacuated fire victims at the Brown Park Recreation Centre in Swan View.

It has been confirmed by EnergySafety that a privately-owned pole at a property at the corner of Johnston and Granite roads in Parkerville fell over on Sunday, igniting the blaze.

The incident prompted debate that private poles should fall under the jurisdiction of electricity regulators, rather than being left to individual owners to ensure they are safe.

But with no responsibility on electricity provider Western Power, the State Government said it would cost millions of dollars if the onus for inspection of private poles fell to Government.

‘I understand it is the responsibility of the owner of the power pole to maintain it but they need to be inspected to see if they are up to standard, because look at how much damage can be caused,’ Mr Leverington said.

‘This is what caused the Chidlow fires a few years ago.’

He said he was frustrated that back yards were inspected to make sure pools had fences to save childrens’ lives, but privately owned poles were not inspected to save the lives of thousands of people. Western Power acting chief executive Stewart Hart said the utility was not responsible for the particular power pole that had caused the fire.

‘Western Power is not responsible for inspecting and maintaining privately owned power poles. This is a responsibility of the land owner,’ he said.

EnergySafety director Ken Bowron said wiring insulation was damaged as the pole fell, sparking the fire.

‘The insulation on the wiring leaving the main switchboard that was attached to the pole was damaged as it fell,’ he said. ‘This caused a short circuit and the resulting sparks and hot metal ignited the fire.’