Powercor: many causes possible for Black Saturday fire 

THE Supreme Court has heard there was no direct evidence linking arson, a discarded cigarette or a vehicle to the cause of the Weerite and Pomborneit Black Saturday fire.

Closing submissions in the class action against Powercor began in Warrnambool yesterday, at which counsel for Powercor David Curtain said there was strong evidence that clashing on the Colac-Camperdown line did not cause the February 7, 2009 fire.

He said the evidence provided by Kerry Lynne Callow, of Macarthur, was extremely important in terms of the timing of the fire. He said there could have been another vehicle, arson, debris or a discarded cigarette which caused the fire.

Asked by Justice Jack Forrest if there was any evidence to prove those causes were anything more than speculation, Mr Curtain said they were all possibilities.

Justice Forrest then asked was there any evidence to support the possibilities, to which Mr Curtain replied there was no direct evidence but they were possibilities and had all been causes of fires in the area.

Mr Curtain said clashing could not have caused the fire to the size that it was. He said the plaintiff’s case was that within 30 seconds there was a nine-foot-wide fire.

He said that only two minutes transpired between the lines arcing and the fire being reported and the plaintiff had failed to comprehensively prove the fire was a consequence of the clashing.

Justice Forrest said the court knew that clashing on the Colac-Camperdown line had caused fires. However, he said there were many possible causes of the 2009 fire, but none established by any evidence.

Justice Forrest said the real question could be: did Powercor do enough after a fire in the same area in 2007? 

The court heard in September 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. 

The hearing will continue today.

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