Posted on 23 Mar 2018
Leading law firm Slater and Gordon is investigating a potential class action on behalf of more than a hundred residents and property owners affected by the devastating bushfires that ripped through Tathra in New South Wales this week.
The fire ripped through 1,250 hectares on Sunday, destroying at least 100 houses, cabins and caravans and damaging dozens more.
A New South Wales Rural Fire Service investigation on Thursday found electrical infrastructure on Reedy Swamp Road, Tarraganda, as the likely cause.
Slater and Gordon Practice Group Leader Rory Walsh said the firm is looking closely at whether the blaze could have been prevented.
“We have seen time and time again how bushfires can tear communities apart, but learning that such devastation could have been avoided adds another level of suffering,” Mr Walsh said.
“The initial investigations are likely to come down to the adequacy of the power pole inspection process, which has been a central issue in many of our other bushfire cases as well as the Victorian Bushfire Royal Commission.
“We will be looking at whether Essential Energy adhered to stringent inspection and ongoing maintenance requirements and ultimately what could have been done to prevent this bushfire.”
Former Federal Police Commissioner Mick Keelty has been appointed to lead an independent inquiry into the management of the bushfire response. There will also be an official Coronial Inquest conducted to formally determine the cause of the fire.
Mr Walsh said the firm will be closely examining the findings of those inquiries and is also planning to hold community meetings with affected residents and property owners.
"We have seen incredible resilience coming out of Tathra this week, but the aftermath of natural disasters is usually very uncertain for those affected,” Mr Walsh said.
“Working out where people stand legally and financially is an important part of rebuilding communities, but it can be incredibly difficult with many left out of pocket.
“The circumstances around the Tathra bushfire are very similar to the Parkerville litigation we are currently running in Western Australia, where many residents suffered significant uninsured losses.
“Even those who had insurance found their policies did not offer full coverage for their personal and property losses, which is why a class action was necessary.
“Slater and Gordon has a long history acting for South Coast locals, which is why we want to do what we can to help those affected by this bushfire.
“This type of litigation tends to be fiercely contested by electrical infrastructure providers, but we have extensive experience and are well equipped to take on this legal battle for Tathra.”
Affected residents and property owners can register their interest in Slater and Gordon’s class action here.