THE man whose vehicle started the Black Tuesday bushfires wants the Country Fire Service to foot the bill if he loses a $1.8m lawsuit.
Marco Visic has told the Supreme Court the South Australian fires killed nine people, burned 77,000ha and destroyed 93 homes in 2005 because the organisation failed in its duty.
In documents seen by adelaidenow, Mr Visic says that any compensation awarded to Eyre Peninsula grazier Robert Proude should come from CFS coffers, not out of his wallet, because of "misfeasance".
"Aerial assets were available to fly to the vicinity of the affected properties and carry out aerial waterbombing (but) the CFS made a decision not to deploy them," his court papers assert.
"In making that decision, the CFS wrongly preferred the interests of the residents and property situated in the Adelaide metropolitan area over the interests of persons within the affected area.
"The CFS wished to hold the aerial bombers in reserve so that they would be available in the event that fires broke out in the Adelaide metropolitan area."
In December 2007, Deputy State Coroner Anthony Schapel found the CFS had mismanaged the fire, which was started by the exhaust of Mr Visic's 4WD.
Mr Proude subsequently filed action against Mr Visic and the CFS.
He claimed the total value of his destroyed property, including 2205 sheep, was $1,862,795.
Other landowners have applied to join Mr Proude's claim and have it heard as a class-action.
The Supreme Court has yet to rule on those applications.
Mr Proude's statement of claim asserts the CFS response to the bushfire was inadequate.
It also blames Mr Visic for self-installing a non-standard exhaust system on his 4WD that lacked a spark arrester.
It asserts that, prior to the fire, he attempted a "temporary fix" by filling the system's "numerous holes and extensive corrosion" with putty.
In his court papers, Mr Visic agrees with Mr Proude but only about the CFS.
The case returns to court next month.
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