Victims of a ferocious bushfire that destroyed nearly 60 homes in the Perth hills will face off against Western Power in the Supreme Court next week.
Nearly 200 plaintiffs have joined the class action saying they want to make sure it never happens again.
Gary and Sandra Elwood lost everything when in 2014 a bushfire tore through Parkerville and destroyed their family home.The fire in the Perth Hills destroyed nearly 60 homes.
Their home was one of 57 houses burnt down in the blaze, sparked by a fallen power pole.
“We’ve rebuilt, it’s still not home it’s a house,” Ms Elwood said.
“We’re just fighting, we just want compensation we will go to the end, I don’t care how long it takes.”
The Elwoods are the lead plaintiffs in a class action against Western Power and contractor Theiss (TEESS) which represents almost 200 residents.
They’re seeking compensation which could run into the tens of millions of dollars but that’s only part of it.
“We’ve had marriage breakdowns, business failures, bankruptcies, it’s not just about bricks and mortar, it’s about real people and they’ve suffered, real injustices and that’s why we need to get this resolved,” Greg Jones from the Bushfire Claimants Consultants Committee said.
They claim Western Power was responsible for the blaze because it failed to remove the power pole despite it being dangerously rotten.
However, the utility argues it wasn’t its responsibility because the pole was on private land.
“There could be huge implications for Western Power here. We say that Western Power has an appalling attitude to the safety network. It’s alone in the bushfire states of not inspecting private poles,” Slater and Gordons lawyer Rory Walsh said.
The case is being spearheaded by lawyer Rory Walsh, who also represented plaintiffs in a class action over the Black Saturday bushfires.
He said there are at least 130,000 power poles on private properties in WA but the real number is unknown.
“West Australians should not accept second class treatment by their utilities, this would not be accepted by other states in Australia,” he said.
The trial could take up to eight weeks, and in a WA first, it will also be live streamed to the public.
The Elwoods and the other residents are just relieved to finally have their day in court and they hope it makes a change.