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Yarloop homeowners consider bushfire class action

Residents from Yarloop have met law firm Slater & Gordon to discuss a possible class action after bushfire devastated the WA town.

Two people were killed and about 180 properties destroyed when fire ripped through Yarloop and the shires of Waroona and Harvey in January.

The Insurance Council of Australia estimates insured losses at $71 million, from 1358 claims.

More than 100 people attended the meeting, and Slater & Gordon lawyer Rachel Cosentino says some issues warrant further investigation if there is sufficient community interest.

“Judging from the turnout at the meeting, we expect there will be a large component of the community who will want to know more about what their legal rights are,” she told insuranceNEWS.com.au.

Former Victorian Country Fire Authority chief Euan Ferguson held an inquiry into the fire response and found significant failings. His report, published in June, says some warnings to Yarloop were not timely or accurate and there were delays sending additional resources.

“This analysis has highlighted deficiencies, not just in the firefighting operation, but also in the systems for managing bushfire in WA,” he said.

“The system for managing rural fire has been variously described as, at best, ‘disjointed and disconnected’; at worst, ‘dysfunctional and broken’. It is my view that there exists a need to effect fundamental changes to the system of rural fire management in WA.

“My conclusion, which has been very carefully considered, is that the current system for managing bushfire in WA is failing citizens and the Government.”

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