Fire victims set to sue Western Power

Emergency services assess the affected area.
Emergency services assess the affected area.

The firm has investigated the claims against Western Power and believes its negligence caused a wooden power pole to fall and start the fire which destroyed 57 homes and damaged many more.

Lawyer Kevin Banks-Smith, bushfire litigation consultant for Slater and Gordon, said the firm was representing more than 60 claimants who lost their homes and suffered damage to their properties as a consequence of the fire.

�We�ve completed a thorough investigation into this issue and firmly believe the damaged pole was the responsibility of Western Power and it failed to take reasonable care to ensure it was safe,� he said.

�We believe Western Power�s negligence includes failing to have and implement proper systems for routine inspection, maintenance and replacement.

�Over the past 18 months we have held a number of community meetings and also private appointments with affected property owners.

�We held another community meeting last night, where the clients who attended overwhelmingly endorsed the decision to launch group legal action against Western Power.�

Slater and Gordon wrote to the lawyers for Western Power on Wednesday inviting them to participate in a claims resolution process similar to the one adopted for the victims of the Margaret River bushfires.

Mr Banks-Smith said if Western Power declined that invitation, claimants would have no choice but to formally lodge proceedings.

Many fire-affected residents have found their insurance does not adequately cover them for their losses and damages.

Additional losses could include claims for loss of rental income, interruption to business interests, time off work and destruction or damage to gardens and vegetation.

Stoneville resident Brett Unwin said despite moving back into his re-built house, he had costs that were still to be covered in the recovery program.

He was one of the first residents in the bushfires to move back his home.

�We have been back here for seven months now.

�We don�t have sheds or out buildings yet as they were destroyed but it is good to be back on the block.�

Mr Unwin will be one of the litigants in the claim against Western Power.

WESTERN POWER HAS SAY

THE Hills Gazette asked Western Power for a response to Parkerville residents� move to seek compensation over last year�s fire. A spokesman said EnergySafety had completed a �thorough investigation into the cause of the Parkerville bushfire�.

�EnergySafety�s report states that the cause of the Parkerville bushfire was a fallen privately-owned power pole that failed because of rot and termites,� the spokesman said.