15/01/2014 - 11:19

Power pole confirmed as Parkerville fire cause

15/01/2014 - 11:19

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Government regulator Energy Safety has confirmed last weekend's devastating Parkerville fire, which claimed 52 homes, was caused by the failure of a privately owned power pole.

Power pole confirmed as Parkerville fire cause

Government regulator Energy Safety has confirmed last weekend's devastating Parkerville fire, which claimed 52 homes, was caused by the failure of a privately owned power pole.

Investigations by Energy Safety found the insulation of wiring attached to the pole and connected to the main switchboard had been damaged when the pole fell to the ground.

This caused a short circuit in the wiring, and the resulting sparks and hot metal ignited the fire, which was yesterday declared officially under control after raging for two days.

Energy Safety, which is responsible for the technical and safety regulation of all the electrical industry and most of the gas industry in Western Australia, said it had taken posession of the property owner's main switchboard, relevant sections of wiring and the wooden power pole.

These items will be examined in greater detail, with further investigations to determine how the pole failed and the suitability of hard wood poles for consumers' private power lines.

"It is clear at this stage that a failed privately owned power pole was involved, without knowing the cause of the failure of the pole," Energy Safety director Ken Bowron said.

"It is timely to remind everyone that it is the property owner's responsibility to maintain all electrical equipment they own which is beyond the network operator's point of supply. This includes power poles."

The cost of the damage from the bushfire has already been placed at more than $13 million, and is almost certain to rise.

Four people who were feared missing in the blaze were accounted for on Monday, with the only fatality remaining a 62-year-old man in Hovea who collapsed on the roof of his house on Sunday while preparing for the fire.

More than 450 properties remain without power, with 140 poles and six kilometres of power lines damaged or destroyed by the Parkerville fire.

Recovery efforts are now underway, with Western Power mobilising 32 crews and heavy equipment to the scene with the aim of replacing up to 60 poles today.

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