Hills on road to recovery: Class action, Supreme Court

Shire President David Lavell with artist Melinda Brezmen, who is creating artworks to acknowledge community spirit in the 2014 bushfires.
Shire President David Lavell with artist Melinda Brezmen, who is creating artworks to acknowledge community spirit in the 2014 bushfires.

A CLASS action against Western Power and its contractor after last year’s fires continued this week in the Supreme Court.

The Parkerville, Stoneville and Mt Helena bushfires in January, 2014, destroyed 57 properties and damaged 358 properties when a damaged wooden power pole fell and ignited dry grass.

Earlier this year about 140 residents representing 80 properties launched a class action against Western Power and its contractor Thiess, alleging the utility had a responsibility to replace faulty wooden poles in its network.

The first hearing was presided over by Chief Justice Wayne Martin, who moved the Supreme Court from its normal circuit to a community hall in Mt Helena in October.

Stoneville and Parkerville Progress Association president Greg Jones said it was the second time Justice Martin held a preliminary hearing in a community hall.

The volunteer firefighter said the first out-of-court hearing was after the Toodyay bushfire in 2009, which destroyed more than 40 homes.

“The hall in Mt Helena was packed; there wasn’t one spare seat in that community hall,” Mr Jones said.

Mr Jones said Justice Martin provided the parties with a roadmap on how to proceed.

“The judge was quite clear; he set down the guidelines and the timeframes,” Mr Jones said.

“The community was very grateful for the court’s foresight in bringing the first hearing to the people.”

A second pre-trial hearing into the Parkerville, Stoneville and Mt Helena fires was scheduled in the Supreme Court yesterday.

Recovery from the fires is continuing with the creation of three sculptures.

Shire of Mundaring President David Lavell said community feedback in the aftermath of the fires revealed a preference for bushfire recovery artworks to be made of metal, symbolising the strong sense of community spirit.

“The main themes that people requested to be represented included firefighters, flora, fauna, people giving and human spirit,” he said.

The artworks will be installed near the Railway Reserves Heritage Trail in Parkerville, Stoneville and Mt Helena.

Cr Lavell said local artist Melinda Brezmen was creating the artworks using large metal pieces that were laser-cut with three different designs.

“The first piece in Parkerville will represent the volunteers who selflessly gave up their time and the second piece represents the community who have united, shown resilience and supported each other,” Cr Lavell said.

“The third piece represents the regeneration of the natural environment following such a devastating fire.”

The sculptures will be visible from the roads for drivers, walkers or cyclists.

“This community art project is a wonderful way to acknowledge the enormous impact this fire has had on our community,” Cr Lavell said.

“With plaques describing each artwork, they can be viewed individually or as a series.”

The Lotterywest-funded sculptures are due for completion in February and will be positioned to allow the summer sunrise and sunset to glow through the cutouts.