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Fire survivors applaud payout

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Black Saturday survivors believe the anniversary this weekend will be a little easier thanks to a $300 million settlement.  

The Murrindindi bushfire class action payout will help some still struggling six years after Australia’s most devastating bushfire swept through Marysville, killing 40 people.

But for others, a price can’t be placed on memories and mementos lost in the blaze, local Doctor Lachlan Fraser says.

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Dr Fraser, who lost his home, clinic and almost his life on Black Saturday, says the settlement means the community will not be forced to dredge up painful memories during a trial.

“I think its a great outcome,” he told AAP on Friday.

“But you can’t get back photos, you can’t put a dollar value on that, and we’d be more than happy to have those things than the money out of the settlement.”

Narbethong resident Kim Rycroft is a little more philosophical.

A latecomer to the class action, Ms Rycroft was so exhausted she initially chose not to be included.

Plus, she didn’t want to be a part of the blame game.

“After a while I thought I needed to rally because I’d lost my home, my business, my everything,” she said.

“I wasn’t after blame. I still won’t blame them but I wanted some form of responsibility in the future.

“No one likes to say they are wrong or that they’re inadequate but I think the settlement is an eye-opener for all.”

Lead plaintiff Katherine Rowe, who lost her husband Ken in the blaze, said she was honoured to represent those affected.

“These events can have a lasting impact,” Dr Rowe told reporters on Friday.

“I’m convinced that this fire need not of occurred and I’m pleased there’s been some accountability, justice and an opportunity for people to continue to recover.”

Saturday marks six years since up to 5000 homes were destroyed in the bushfire, which was believed to have been started by a fault in an electrical conductor on a power pole.

Survivors and family members will hold a barbecue in Marysville to mark the anniversary.


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