OF the many victims of Beechworth’s Black Saturday bushfire, none suffered a loss so great as that of Grace and Samantha Wilson.
But more than three years on from the blaze that robbed them of their parents John and Sue, the sisters are one step closer to putting the devastation of that day behind them.
They are in line for a personal injury payout for the trauma they suffered over the death of their parents, who stayed to defend their Mudgegonga home.
They will be among the victims who will benefit from a $32.85?million compensation settlement that is now being considered by the Supreme Court.
Yesterday a sitting of the court in Wodonga allowed anyone with concerns about the terms of the settlement to be heard.
While a confidential document was submitted to Justice Karin Emerton, no one raised any objections in the courtroom.
The court’s approval of the settlement will complete the legal process for an estimated 100 claimants.
The main litigants in the case, Paul Mercieca and Amelia Coombes, also will be among those to receive compensation through a personal injury claim.
The pair almost died when surrounded by fire as they tried to leave their home, before being rescued.
The $32.85?million in compensation is said to be just 45?per cent of what the claimants might have been awarded if the case had gone before the court and decided in their favour.
But the parties came to an agreement on the first day of a scheduled civil trial.
Albury agronomist John Sykes is one of those listed as an independent assessor.
Mr Sykes, owner of John Sykes Rural Consulting, will be called in to determine the values of property lost in the fire.
The multimillion compensation payout is being funded by four defendants, including power company SP AusNet, which is set to hand over almost $20 million.
The plaintiffs in the class action say the fire began when an apple box gum tree deemed “hazardous” fell onto a live high-voltage conductor along the Buckland Gap Road.
Maintenance contractor Eagle Travel Tower Services will contribute almost $5 million and the Department of Sustainabilty and Environment and Parks Victoria will together hand over $8.2 million
Victims of the fire can register as claimants.
Justice Emerton reserved her decision on the fairness of the settlement, adjourning the case to a date to be fixed.