Australia Parkerville bushfire: 86yo property owner failed to check power pole before blaze

22:03  31 july  2018
22:03  31 july  2018 Source:   abc.net.au

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The Weekend West can reveal lawyers for the 189 residents affected by the 2014 Parkerville bushfire will make the claim when the trial for the the pole at the centre of the case was missed by inspectors doing contract work for Western Power as recently as 36 hours before it fell and sparked the blaze .

Western Power has blamed regulator Energy Safety for failing to identify a faulty power pole that sparked the devastating Parkerville bushfire . The utility has hit back in the Supreme Court trial denying its responsible for the blaze that destroyed 57 homes.

Noreen Campbell leaves the courts after giving her evidence.© Provided by ABC News Noreen Campbell leaves the courts after giving her evidence.

An elderly woman has told a Perth court she never checked a power pole on her property before it collapsed and sparked a fire which tore through a Perth hills suburb.

The 2014 Parkerville blaze damaged or destroyed dozens of homes.

Eighty-six-year-old Noreen Campbell — along with Western Power and contractors Thiess — is being sued by residents and property owners who lost their homes.

Mrs Campbell told the court there had been problems in the past with termites in fruit trees on her property, but a pest controller had gotten rid of them.

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Western Power ‘ failed to learn fire lessons’. Rotted pole ‘sparked Parkerville fire ’. BUSHFIRE victims are taking on Western Power in a class action over a blaze which destroyed more than 50 homes in 2014.

Legal fight in Parkerville bushfire . Almost 19o people are suing Western Power over the blaze in a trial that begins today. That work should have been preceded by a basic safety check of the pole which would have to take more tension – which would have simply required it being hit with a hammer

She also told the court she assumed termites could not get into jarrah, and did not check the pole or ask anyone else to do it.

LACHLAN ARMSTRONG QC: Did you ever turn your mind to whether this particular pole might be affected by termites?
MRS CAMPBELL: No.
LACHLAN ARMSTRONG QC: And the reason you didn't think about it was because you understood the pole to be jarrah? Is that right?
MRS CAMPBELL: Yes.
LACHLAN ARMSTRONG QC: And the stumps that were under your house that were affected by white ants, you've given evidence, were also jarrah? Correct?
MRS CAMPBELL: Yes.
LACHLAN ARMSTRONG QC: Did that make you turn your mind at all to the pole also being made of jarrah, might also be affected by termites?
MRS CAMPBELL: No.
LACHLAN ARMSTRONG QC: Did you ever check the pole?
MRS CAMPBELL: No.
LACHLAN ARMSTRONG QC: Did you ever ask anybody to check the pole?
MRS CAMPBELL: No.
LACHLAN ARMSTRONG QC: You knew the pole was holding up power lines, didn't you?
MRS CAMPBELL: Yes.

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WESTERN Power says if anyone is liable for the 2014 Parkerville bushfire — which razed more than 50 homes — it is Noreen Campbell, 86, whose rotten power pole collapsed, sparking flames that became an She owed a duty of care because she was the owner and occupier of the property .

But he said Western Power or its contractors repeatedly failed to properly check the pole 's condition when working on cables and other equipment. Some of that work was conducted just two days before the Parkerville fire .

The court has previously been told the pole was affected by termites.

As well as the collapsed pole, Mrs Campbell was questioned about a steel pole which was not in use, and an earlier pole which had been on the property — but she had trouble remembering details about those.

When Mrs Campbell was asked by other counsel about her earliest memory of the meter box which was on the pole in question, she replied that she never used to think about it.

She was also asked if she could remember the last time she "visited" the pole, but she said she could not.

Mrs Campbell is named in Western Power's claim on the basis that she "owned" the pole and had a duty of care to maintain it.

Power pole 'looked good' to contractor before blaze

Mrs Campbell was not asked many questions in court, unlike Leonard Bartosch, the Thiess contractor who had inspected the pole in July, 2013 — about six months before it collapsed.

Mr Bartosch told the court he dug around the pole, did a sounding test with a hammer — taking care not to damage the pole — and looked for rot or holes.

He also took a photo of the pole's meter box, which was missing a door.

Mr Bartosch told the court everything he knew about carrying out inspections, he had learned on the job and through watching others. He said he had not been told specifically about fungal rot or termites.

He said what he did during his July inspection was "standard practice", and the pole had looked good. He also said what he had put in the court statement was what he could remember of the day.

He said he could not explain discrepancies in the record of the day's work, which made reference to a metal pole.

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