Second class action launched over St Patrick’s Day fires

A burnt-out property at Elingamite following the St Patrick's Day fires. Picture: Rob Gunstone
A burnt-out property at Elingamite following the St Patrick's Day fires. Picture: Rob Gunstone

A second class action has been launched against Powercor over the St Patrick’s Day fires.

Maddens Lawyers filed a class action for Terang fire victims in the Victorian Supreme Court late on Tuesday.

It follows a similar class action against Powercor over the Garvoc fire, lodged by Maddens on March 28. The firm is also likely to launch similar proceedings over the Camperdown and Gazette fires.

Maddens Lawyers principal Brendan Pendergast said total losses from the Terang fire were likely to be well in excess of $40 million.

Investigators found the Terang fire was caused by arcing powerlines, causing molten material to fall on the ground, igniting dry vegetation.

The fire began at the town’s eastern entrance and spread in a south-easterly direction, destroying more than 6500 hectares.

“A safe system of electrical distribution should be designed such that arcing and clashing does not occur in high wind, high fire danger circumstances,” Mr Pendergast said.  

“Powercor has acknowledged in the media that the Garvoc and Terang fires were caused by electrical assets.”

Mr Pendergast, who conducted public meetings with fire-affected residents before launching the class actions, said the community was upset that the fires had been caused by electrical assets.

“The community distress is amplified by the fact that many people impacted were also impacted in 1983 as a result of the Ash Wednesday fires, which were also caused by electrical events,” he said.  

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