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ESV releases St Patrick’s Day fires technical reports

Energy Safe Victoria has released five more reports into separate incidents that caused fires on St Patrick’s Day in Victoria’s south-west.

The release of these reports concludes ESV’s technical investigations into those fires where the ignitions were caused by electrical assets. Four investigations will result in no further action, while two others will continue in order to determine whether regulatory action is required.

Four of the technical investigation reports concern fires caused by trees or branches hitting powerlines during a high wind event on 17 March (St Patrick’s Day).

ESV has concluded that in all four fires, the trees that hit the powerlines were outside the minimum clearance space required by electric line clearance regulations. ESV will not be investigating these incidents further.

However, two further reports will result in further investigation to determine the implications for future industry practices and whether regulatory breaches have occurred:

In regards to the pole snapping ESV has concluded that:

  • at around 9pm the pole snapped and the high voltage conductor hit the ground and ignited vegetation
  • the pole had a sizeable internal cavity caused by decay and termite infestation which reduced its capacity to withstand the wind conditions
  • Powercor’s inspection regime failed to identify that the pole was compromised.

ESV has been investigating this matter since March 2018.