Cause of fire remains unknown: Endeavour Energy

The aftermath of the October bushfires in Buena Vista Rd, Winmalee. Photo: Dallas Kilponen.
The aftermath of the October bushfires in Buena Vista Rd, Winmalee. Photo: Dallas Kilponen.

The electricity company accused of responsibility for a devastating bushfire in the Lower Mountains last year says it still does not know what actually sparked the blaze.

The fire which ripped through Springwood, Winmalee and Yellow Rock on October 17, completely destroyed 193 houses and partially damaged approximately 200 more.

Hundreds of residents have launched a $200 million class action against Endeavour Energy, alleging that poor tree maintenance by the company was to blame. They say a tree on Linksview Road, Springwood, caught alight because Endeavour had allowed it to grow through the lines, despite being warned by residents that this was happening.

The fire is said to have started in the tree and then jumped across the road into bushland from where it spread to scores of other houses.

On Friday - nine months after the fire - lawyers for Endeavour told the NSW Supreme Court they had been unable to determine the cause of the blaze.

Barrister Michael Izzo said this was because police had seized the relevant section of powerline and prevented access to the site in order to conduct their investigation, ahead of an upcoming coronial inquiry into the blaze.

"Endeavour Energy doesn't have a view as to the cause of the bushfire," Mr Izzo said.

"The undertaking of a detailed and considered inquiry into the cause of the fire has not been made."

The court heard that 300 residents have now registered to be part of the action, with another 100 likely to be involved.

In response to a question from the presiding judge, Justice Peter Garling, Mr Izzo confirmed that Endeavour Energy would not be apportioning any blame to the response to the fire by emergency services.

Justice Garling indicated that he intended to set a hearing date for the class action between July and December 2015.

He ordered that lawyers for the plaintiffs file an amended statement of claim, and that the matter return to court next month.

Speaking after the hearing, an Endeavour Energy spokeswoman said the company had asked lawyers representing residents to clarify their claims so that it could respond in detail.

"Our thoughts continue to be with the Blue Mountains community and our focus continues to be on maintaining a safe and reliable electricity network," the spokeswoman said.