AUSTRALIA – Hundreds of Tasmanians impacted by a devastating bushfire in January 2013 have launched legal action against two people they believe caused the blaze.
The fortnight-long wildfire at Dunalley in the state’s southeast destroyed 193 homes and 186 other properties including the town’s school and police station.
In documents lodged with the Supreme Court of Hobart, it is alleged a man and woman were negligent in lighting or failing to properly put out a campfire which later flared and burned through 25,000 hectares of land.
A total of 445 people have put their names to the legal action.
They claim a campfire was lit on December 28, 2012 in a tree stump at a property in Forcett.
It is alleged dirt was kicked onto the stump and two half-buckets of water poured on the fire, with the belief it had been extinguished.
The woman on January 1 saw steam coming from stump after rain but did not take any steps to investigate, it is also claimed.
Two days later, in hot, dry and windy weather and when the fire danger was very high to severe, the smouldering fire spread to grass and then into bushland.
The class action claims the man and woman ought to have known when they lit the campfire in December there was a risk of fire spreading over a wide area.
A 2013 inquiry into the Dunalley bushfire and other blazes in the area estimated their overall financial cost was about $100 million.
The case will reportedly come before the Supreme Court in March.