A POWERCOR employee has told the Supreme Court that any clashing of power lines has the potential to cause a fire.
Peter Goode’s evidence was heard yesterday by Justice Jack Forrest as part of a class action in Warrnambool against Powercor following the Black Saturday fires at Weerite and Pomborneit on February 7, 2009.
Mr Goode, a reliability investigation officer with Powercor, said sometimes it was difficult to identify the clashing of power lines because it could be similar to lightning strikes.
He said any clashing of lines could lead to bigger problems.
“Any clashing does have the potential for fire and outages I suppose,” he said.
Asked by Justice Forrest if someone who had been in the business a long time could look at a line and say if there had been clashing, Mr Goode said it was not always black and white.
Counsel representing Power-cor, Daniel Wallis, asked Mr Goode about a grass fire in the same area in 2007 and if he had seen any evidence of clashing. Mr Goode said he had not seen any evidence but in the absence of any other cause he had treated it as if it was clashing.
The court heard that after the 2007 fire, Powercor relied on a survey completed in 2001 to ensure the lines were up to statutory standards to reduce the risk of clashing.
On Tuesday the court heard from senior CFA fire instructor Francis Fabian Crowe, who said he believed the 2007 fire could have been started by power lines.
Yesterday, the court heard that Mr Goode went to the site of the February 7 blaze the following day with another Powercor asset performance officer (APO) and took photos of anything he believed to be relevant.
He said he looked at the power lines between poles 927 and 928 and saw repair marks had been made, and took a photo of what looked like the remains of a tyre because he thought it could be the potential cause of the fire.
Mr Goode told the court that he had weekly meetings with colleagues, at which they monitored outages and any major outages were looked at and discussed.
He said usually most APOs knew what was going on in their area.
Mr Goode said other causes of outages were birds and possums.
He said ‘no cause identified’ made up half the outages on 66kb power lines.
“It’s difficult to find every single fault,” he said.
He said wind-blown debris and strong winds could put pressure on power poles.
The trial continues today and Mr Goode is expected to be cross-examined by counsel representing the lead plaintiff Terrence Place.