Parkerville residents who suffered losses in the damaging bushfires of January 2014 have given law firm Slater and Gordon the go ahead to commence legal proceedings against Western Power.
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.
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.”
On Wednesday Slater and Gordon wrote to the lawyers for Western Power inviting them to participate in a claims resolution process similar to that adopted for the victims of the Margaret River bushfires. If Western Power decline that invitation, claimants will have no choice but to formally lodge proceedings.
Many fire-affected residents have found their insurance didn’t 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.