Maddens Lawyers have launched a class action in the South Australian Supreme Court on behalf of those impacted by the 20 December 2019 Cudlee Creek bushfire.
Regional Victorian firm, Maddens Lawyers, have issued proceedings against South Australian power company SA Power Networks on behalf of residents and businesses burnt out by the Cudlee Creek bushfire.

The bushfire ignited on the morning of 20 December 2019 after a large pine tree failed and fell on high voltage conductors. One of the live conductors then came into contact with a nearby wire fence and the ground resulting in the ignition of the fire.

At the time of the fire, the Adelaide Hills was experiencing an extreme heat wave. In the lead up to Christmas 2019 multiple Total Fire Ban days had been declared. The day of the fire was the fourth Total Fire Ban day in a row. A Catastrophic Bushfire Danger Rating was in place and temperatures in the area had reached 40 degrees by around 9.00am.

Maddens’ Special Counsel Brendan Pendergast said ‘the Cudlee Creek bushfire quickly became uncontrollable and spread to over 23,000 hectares, destroying 96 homes and causing significant damage to hundreds of other properties. Tragically there was one loss of life. Given the extreme scale of damage caused, the effects of this fire continue to be felt by the Adelaide Hills community to this day.’

In addition to the loss of almost 100 homes, dozens of vineyards and fruit orchids were also wiped out in the fire. The damage caused is expected to exceed $150million.

Mr Pendergast said ‘the class action claim relates to the inadequacy of SA Power Networks fault protection settings. 20 December 2019 was forecast to be a catastrophic day of fire risk. That forecast was known well in advance and wasn’t unexpected given the conditions in the days prior. More could and should have been done by SA Power Networks to ensure their protection devices responded immediately to any faults on their network. These steps could have easily been implemented and wouldn’t have cost SA Power Networks a cent.’

Lead plaintiff, Mr Kris Thrower is advancing the class action on behalf of the hundreds of people impacted by the fire. The house that he resided in was completely destroyed and he lost almost all of his possessions in the fire. Mr Thrower said that the fire changed his life and his family’s life forever.

‘I worked so hard to establish myself and now I’ve stepped back all the way to zero with absolutely nothing. It still gives me nightmares. I’d like to think that someone is held accountable for the devastation to my life, my family’s life, the environment around us and all the animals that perished.
‘Mentally, I’m anxious. I used to be one of the calmest people I know, now everyday I’m looking on the horizon for a fire. It changes you. My life has been flipped upside down and I personally don’t have any closure on it,’ Mr Thrower said.

Maddens Lawyers are Australia’s Bushfire Compensation Experts having successfully acted on behalf of thousands of people impacted by bushfire events across Australia including the 2009 Victorian Black Saturday fires and the 2013 NSW Springwood/Winmalee bushfire.

Mr Pendergast said that ‘the class action process is a secure and low risk means for residents and businesses marred by the fire to recover compensation for the significant loss and damage they’ve suffered. There is great strength in a community making a collective stand.’

Anyone impacted by the Cudlee Creek fire is encouraged to contact Maddens Lawyers to registered their interest in the class action tollfree on 1800 139 290, email cudleecreek@maddenslawyers.com.au or register online at maddenslawyers.com.au/2019cudleecreek