The Coleraine bushfire could have been started by a fallen power line, making it the third bushfire the Black Saturday royal commission has heard during its week of regional hearings may have been in part caused by electrical conductors.
Farmer Steven Cooper, on whose Balochile Road property the fire is believed to have started, told the commission that he inspected the power pole on his land soon after the fire had passed on February 7 and observed a hanging line ”swinging with the wind”.
In a hearing in Horsham, Mr Cooper said a wide area around the base of the 48-year-old pole had been burnt, and there was a piece of tie-wire on the ground that he said had later ”disappeared”.
Energy Safe Victoria’s Warren Knop told the inquiry the fire could have started when the tie-wire broke, loosening a power line that hit against the wooden pole supporting it, causing sparks. Another possible source of ignition was the conductor making contact with a tree, he said.
Powercor’s Vincent Power said an internal investigation showed a tie-wire holding the line had broken in two places because of fatigue rather than corrosion.