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Bushfire victims launch class action

RAW VISION: Blue Mountains bushfire victims launch a $200 million class action against power company Endeavour Energy.

PT1M21S http://www.canberratimes.com.au/action/externalEmbeddedPlayer?id=d-38lh4 620 349

Hundreds of residents who had homes destroyed or damaged in last October's Blue Mountains bushfires have launched a $200 million class action against power company Endeavour Energy.

The proceedings began in the NSW Supreme Court last Friday and the action is believed to be the largest compensation claim of its kind in NSW.

Lawyers for the estimated 600 affected property owners will allege that the October 17 blaze at Springwood and Winmalee was sparked after a "poorly maintained" tree fell on power lines.

A firefighter tackling a bushfire at Winmalee in October 2013.

A firefighter tackling a bushfire at Winmalee in October 2013. Photo: Janie Barrett

Law firm Maddens Lawyers said the tree had been identified as a "hazard" in July but then nothing was done in the subsequent months to fix the problem.

"This is a fire that should never have occurred," said Maddens senior partner Brendan Pendergast in a press briefing in Sydney on Tuesday. 

"For those several months between identifying the tree was a hazard and the fire nothing was done about it."

The hazard notice was issued to a Springwood property owner asking them to trim the tree tree but Mr Pendergast said the obligation was on the state-owned Endeavour Energy to ensure that the notice was complied with.

Mr Pendergast said he estimates the claim will exceed $200 million in property loss and damage and said many of those who lost homes or suffered bad damage were either under insured or had no insurance at all.

"There is no reason these residents should sit back and just accept that this fire occurred, and accept the damage that it did whilst incurring the substantial expense associated with re-establishing their properties," he said.

 Similar class action has been taken by the same firm for those affected by the Black Saturday bushfires in Victoria with millions of dollars awarded for victims. 

The matter is listed before the NSW Supreme Court in August.