Today Maddens Lawyers filed a class action against Infigen Energy Limited (Infigen) on behalf of land owners affected by the 17 January 2017 Currandooley Fire.
The fire was caused when a crow connected with overhead electrical infrastructure, caught alight and dropped into dry foliage underneath a powerline that transfers electricity from Infigen’s Woodlawn Windfarm to a substation at their Capital Wind Farm on the property known as Currandooley.
The fire burnt approximately 3,400 hectares completely destroying 1 residence, numerous sheds, hundreds of livestock as well as cars, fencing, trees and pasture.
The Statement of Claim Maddens have filed on behalf of lead plaintiffs Fred Kuhn and Liz Stewart of Mount Fairy alleges that Infigen was aware of the risk that a bird strike to its high voltage electrical infrastructure could cause a fire. It was aware of numerous previous similar incidents but failed to take appropriate steps to address the risk until after the fire.
The firm’s Class Action Principal, Brendan Pendergast, said “Infigen failed to exercise reasonable care and to address this very serious issue until after the fire.”
33 individual claimants from 22 fire affected properties have instructed Maddens Lawyers to seek compensation for their fire loss and damage. Maddens are aware of a further 6 properties which were fire affected but are yet to receive instructions from their owners.
Mr Pendergast explained that the matter has been referred the NSW Coroner and that Maddens Lawyers will seek leave to appear before the Coroner to represent the fire victims in the event that a full coronial inquiry is conducted.
Mr Pendergast who has attended several community meetings conducted at Tarago explained “there is a diversity of support for the presence of wind farms in the area amongst local landowners. The point here is the compelling fact whether you support the wind farms or not this fire could have been avoided by a simple and inexpensive design modification to the configuration of the lines and by institution of the fire mitigation steps that have now been completed post fire”. Mr Pendergast went on to say “it is regrettable that these simple steps were not taken sooner. If that had been done this fire would not have occurred.”