State wants $22m compo for Black Saturday blaze

State wants $22m compo for Black Saturday blaze

16 April 2012

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Australia — The Victorian Government is seeking more than $22 million in loss and damages from the electricity company which it deems was responsible for destroying schools, parks and roads in the deadly Black Saturday bushfire at Kilmore East.

In a writ lodged today in Victoria’s Supreme Court, the Government and several government agencies claim the power company, SPI Electricity Pty Ltd, trading as SP AusNet, and its contractor, Utility Services Corporation Limited, breached their duty of care by not maintaining the lines, which caused the blaze on February 7, 2009.

The government alleges the failure of a conductor on a SWER (single wire earth return) line ignited the blaze about 11.45am after strong winds felled the line, igniting a grassfire alongside pine plantations.
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SPI Electricity was the owner/operator of the SWER line when the fault sparked the deadly blaze, the writ says.

The fire — the worst in the state on Black Saturday — claimed 119 lives and destroyed more than 1200 homes.

The Department of Education and Early Childhood Development is claiming just under $6 million, the secretary of the Department of Sustainability and Environment is seeking almost $8.5 million, Parks Victoria just over $2 million and VicRoads more than $6 million in loss and damages.

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