Two property owners are set to launch legal action against telecommunications giant Telstra and one of its contractors over a bushfire which they call a “man-made disaster” and claim left them with millions of dollars in damage.
- Joseph Smith and Dennis Gascoigne argue Telstra and contractor Elsham are liable to pay for damage to their properties
- An investigation obtained through right to information laws found the fire was accidental and caused by probable human activity
- The companies dispute key parts of the evidence, saying it is “inconclusive”
But Telstra denies liability for the fire and has refused to pay their damages as has the contractor, forcing the bitter dispute to court.
The fire began on February 12 last year in hot and windy conditions in the tiny Queensland border town of Wallangarra.
It spread rapidly into New South Wales and burnt 44,000 hectares over 10 days.