Posted on 05 Dec 2014
Slater and Gordon and Perth bushfire litigation lawyer Kevin Banks-Smith are investigating a potential class action on behalf of residents and property owners affected by the January 2014 Parkerville fires, following the release of the Energy Safety report into the cause of the fire.
The Parkerville fire arose when a power pole fell at a Parkerville resident’s property. The fire destroyed 57 homes and caused substantial property damage.
The Energy Safety report confirms that the jarrah pole fell as a consequence of extensive damage to the base caused by termites and rot.
The report also confirms that:
- Western Power contractors performed works on the pole in June 2013;
- “The size of the cavity in the pole in July 2013 was likely to have been only fractionally smaller than in January 2014”; and
- The testing methods used by the contractors were inadequate for testing the pole’s strength.
“What is clear from Energy Safety’s report is that the extensive damage done by the fire could have been prevented, had Western Power implemented suitable testing methods when maintenance was performed in the months before the fire,” said Mr Banks-Smith.
“We are now investigating whether Western Power can be held legally responsible for this damage.”
Energy Safety guidelines distributed prior to the fire indicated that landowners’ responsibility begins “beyond the network operator’s meter”.
The report released today confirmed that the service cable and power meter attached to the pole were the property of Western Power.
“The fact that the fallen pole was the point of supply to the property increases the likelihood that Western Power had a responsibility to adequately check and maintain the pole,” Mr Banks-Smith said.
Slater and Gordon has been retained by several affected individuals, and expect that more will come forward in light of the Energy Safety report.
With the anniversary of the fire fast approaching, property owners and residents will be considering whether their insurance provided adequate coverage, and whether litigation is an option they want to explore.
Mr Banks-Smith had been appointed to act as a consultant to Slater and Gordon. He has previously represented groups impacted by the Tenterden Fire of 2003, the Toodyay Fires of 2007 and 2009 and the 2011 Roleystone/Kelmscott fire. Slater and Gordon and Mr Banks-Smith are currently also working together on claims arising from the November 2011 Margaret River fires.