Bushfire’s damage bill almost $5m

Bushfire’s damage bill almost $5m

25 March 2010

published by www.bordermail.com.au

Australia —  Known damage from the Walla-Gerogery bushfire in December amounted to almost $5 million, Greater Hume Council general manager Steven Pinnuck said yesterday.

This is based on advice received from owners or occupiers of 68 properties that were affected to varying degrees, including the eight homes that were lost in a fire that started at the Walla tip and swept into Gerogery.

“Our figures are based on claims made to the council’s recovery fund and the public appeal fund, but doesn’t include an estimate of lost future earnings,” he said.

Mr Pinnuck said some applicants didn’t put a dollar value on lost items and it was unclear what total insurance claims would be.

Nevertheless, the estimate of almost $5 million demonstrated the severe impact of the December 17 fire and was well in excess of the Rural Fire Service’s initial estimates of about $3 million.

The council has approved 51 fencing claims of more than $234,000.

A special allocation of $200,000 from council reserves covered most of this but might require another $100,000.

“Council has also undertaken or committed to cleanup works on up to 60 properties,” Mr Pinnuck said.

This might well cost more than $50,000.

Fodder with an estimated value of $80,000 has been distributed to 22 properties, but the council cannot replace all fodder lost.

A council fencing program using volunteers which has benefited four traditional-style farms and the council will investigate helping hobby farms with fencing later.

Mr Pinnuck said the public appeal, separate from the recovery program, had raised more than $40,000.

He said that was “a small amount when compared with the losses incurred”.

Most of the cash went directly to four families who lost their primary place of residence.

One family who had been forced to find temporary accommodation for an extended period had also been helped.

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