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Power pole owners warned
Bush blaze: Property owner Pat West. Picture: Steve Ferrier/ The West Australian

Thousands of property owners with private power lines will start receiving pamphlets within weeks warning them about their obligations and the potential legal risks they face.

Questions over responsibility for power arose in December when a fallen wooden pole sparked a fire that raced through several hectares and almost burnt out of control on a property near Chidlow.

It emerged the pole was the responsibility of the property's owner, 79-year-old Pat West, because it helped connect her home to the electricity grid run by State-owned network operator Western Power.

A row erupted between Western Power and WA's electricity safety regulator over which agency was responsible for notifying people such as Ms West about their obligations.

EnergySafety is understood to have prepared a pamphlet on the issue with Western Power and regional provider Horizon Power.

It will inform property owners about their obligations for maintaining their power infrastructure. It will also make clear the liabilities landholders face if private power poles and wires under their ownership cause fires which damage or destroy life or property.

The pamphlets will be sent to about 15,000 properties in mostly rural and semi-rural parts of the State.

John Guest, secretary of bushfire lobby group Locals Against Wildfires, said the pamphlets were a good first step in alerting property owners to the issues.

However, Mr Guest said the pamphlets would have limited use and it would be better for authorities to inspect privately owned poles while they carried out upgrades to the State's wooden poles.

He said many of the privately owned poles had not been properly maintained since they were installed up to 50 years ago and were at risk of falling.

"It's definitely a step in the right direction but I don't think it's enough," Mr Guest said.

"There's as much potential for private power lines to start fires as there is for Western Power lines currently . . . so it's a very significant problem."