Terang Express
Fire victims settle in no-cost move

A NUMBER of fire victims impacted during the St Patrick’s Day fires, which tore through the Cobden and Terang regions last March, have settled their claims with Powercor.

Insurance Australia Group (IAG) and other insurance companies reached a confidential settlement ahead of the start of Maddens Lawyers’ own proceedings earlier this week.

“I am pleased to confirm that we have entered into terms of settlement with Powercor on behalf of our customers, the victims of the Terang bushfire,” the IAG spokesperson said.

“However, the terms of the settlement must remain confidential pending the outcome of the Maddens class action.”

IAG announced last November it would cover all legal costs, including disbursements, court fees and expert witness fees, with the aim to settle rather than undertaking legal action.

Maddens Lawyers’ class action lawsuits launched on Monday in the Supreme Court of Victoria, with the judge and a number of representatives acting on behalf of the plaintiff and defendant visiting the site where the fire originated on Tuesday.

According to Energy Safe Victoria’s (ESV) technical investigation report released shortly after the Terang/Cobden fire, Powercor’s electrical assets at the ignition site were not constructed to the national standards nor the company’s own standards.

Therefore, the clearance between the upper and lower 22kV conductors and the conductors and the ground was insufficient during the heavy wind gusts on Saturday, March 17, 2018, allowing power lines to clash.

Both the Australian Overhead Line Design Standard and Powercor’s Distribution Construction Standard outline a 900 millimetre clearance between the 22kV conductors.

However, ESV’s investigators found clearances were between 210 millimetres and 810 millimetres.

In terms of the pole’s conductor to ground clearances, the standards outlined a 6.9 metre clearance.

ESV discovered clearances at the site ranged from 5.9 metres to 6.42 metres.

ESV’s investigation found the electrical fault which caused the fire occurred at a pole (Pole 3 or P3) just north-west of the Terang substation.

The report also highlighted recent inspections of the site had failed to indicate any such fault with P3 or nearby infrastructure.