13 June 2015 –
The lawyers running a class action on behalf of hundreds of Blue Mountains October 2013 bushfire victims are on the cusp of launching a second class action; this one for victims of a second, smaller fire that burnt another part of the Blue Mountains on the same day.
Bushfire class action solicitors Maddens Lawyers, who will go to trial in February next year on behalf of Springwood-Winmalee bushfire victims, are now considering launching a similar action for those affected by a blaze that burnt through the nearby Mt Victoria area, also on 17 October 2013.
A public meeting to explain the firm’s plans, and fire victim’s options, will be held in Mt Victoria tomorrow evening (July 14, 2015).
Maddens Lawyers Class Action Principal Brendan Pendergast said nine houses were destroyed, and another 60 properties damaged by a fire that burnt through the Mt Victoria region in the vicinity of Mt York Road, St Georges Parade and Darling Causeway on 17 October 2013 – not far from where the Springwood-Winmalee blaze destroyed over 200 homes and damaged many more houses and businesses.
He said the impact of the Mt Victoria fire had been somewhat overshadowed by the sheer size of the Springwood-Winmalee devastation – but that early investigations suggested victims of the smaller fire had similar grounds to pursue compensation claims as their neighbours.
“Our investigations, at this stage, suggest that, similar to the Springwood-Winmalee fire, the Mt Victoria fire started when a tree fell on to a powerline in Mt York Road,” Mr Pendergast said.
“It is important that even though the Mt Victoria fire’s impact didn’t occupy as many headlines as the Springwood-Winmalee fire, the victims of this blaze are also represented when it comes to recovering their losses.”
Maddens Lawyers appeared at a recent Coronial Inquiry into the October 2013 fires that affected the Mt Victoria and Springwood/Winmalee residents. The hearing will continue in August.
Mr Pendergast said new evidence presented at the Coronial Inquiry into the October 2013 fires indicated those affected by the Mt Victoria also had grounds to sue for compensation.
Maddens Lawyers appeared at the June inquiry on behalf of a number of Springwood-Winmalee and Mt Victoria property owners, and will continue to appear on their behalf when it resumes next month.
Mr Pendergast said he was concerned by anecdotal evidence suggesting some of the Mt Victoria fire victims had left the local area and may not be aware of the coronial inquiry or the possibility of recovering compensation for their property loss and damage.
“Our enquiries to date suggest some of those that were burnt out in Mt Victoria have left the area, rather than face the challenge of rebuilding. Even if they haven’t continued to live locally, the victims of this fire are still likely to have a claim for compensation to recover what they lost – and need to let us know what that might be, sooner rather than later.”
Mr Pendergast explained that by registering with Maddens Lawyers, fire victims would be kept abreast of developments in investigations and legal action.
“Registering your interest ensures that you will be kept informed of our progress and any new developments in legal action regarding these fires,” he said. “Registration does not cost anything, and it doesn’t mean anyone is locked in to legal action if and when it goes ahead,” Mr Pendergast explained.
“What it provides is options and access to information. The option to take part, or, as the case develops, withdraw at will.