Court to consider deal on Blampied fire

A CLASS action over last year’s February 24 Blampied bushfires could be settled by early next year.

A proposed settlement will be heard by the Supreme Court sitting in Ballarat on February 17.

Lead plaintiff Dr David Campbell brought the action against defendants Hazell Bros in September, claiming the 37 hectare fire was caused by sparks from equipment cutting concrete pipe on the Midland Highway near Blampied.

The fire burnt up to the Wombat State Forest fringe and threatened several houses for more than three hours, with 50 CFA crews, including 40 tankers, a bulldozer and five air cranes battling the blaze.

In a statement of claim on Madden Lawyers’ website, Dr Campbell said he lost $186,827 worth of equipment, including fencing, gardens, and plant and machinery, as well as incurring $3515 in clean-up costs.

In its statement of defence, also on the website, construction company Hazell Bros said the equipment was being used in a damp trench covered with gravel, and the demolition saw blade was lubricated to prevent it overheating.

Hazell Bros also claim its workers saw police discover a cigarette butt close to the bushfire’s ignition point.

However, Dr Campbell and Hazell Bros have since reached an agreement which, if approved, will be followed by a loss assessment process.

Class action group members will have to submit their loss details to Maddens Lawyers to be assessed by Hazell Bros.

If agreed on, Hazell Bros will pay compensation equal to 95 per cent of the loss plus 10 per cent interest, which will run from May 1 next year.

If approved, some of Dr Campbell’s legal costs will also be paid by Hazell Bros and group members.

Anyone who wants to oppose the settlement, or to replace Dr Campbell as the lead plaintiff, must attend the February 17 hearing at 10.30am at the Ballarat Law Courts.

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