In handing down his findings into the 2009 Marysville fire, where 40 people were killed, Coroner Ian Gray found that if power company AusNet Services had followed basic safety standards the fire may have been prevented.
AusNet Services said it had the deepest sympathy for those impacted by the Black Saturday bushfires, but disagreed with the coroner’s conclusions.
The Marysville bushfire started mid-afternoon on February 7, 2009 along Wilhelmina Falls Road near a disused sawmill. The fire quickly became out of control with a wind change sending the fire to Marysville.
The coroner found an AusNet power line between two poles had snapped and fell across the road, electrifying a fence and igniting vegetation.
A stay wire, which is drilled into the ground to secure one of the poles, was placed too close to the 22,000-volt line, and this lack of clearance caused electrical arcing, the coroner found.