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ABC News

Victims of Red Centre NATS motorsport flame explosion receive $3.2 million federal court settlement

Twelve people who suffered serious burns in a trackside explosion of flames at a major motorsport festival in Alice Springs five years ago have settled federal court action for more than three million dollars.

More than a dozen people were injured during the incident in September 2017, when methanol fuel from a car's exhaust system ignited during a burnout competition at the Red Centre NATS event. 

A doctor who treated the injured group at the time said the flames would have been more than 400 degrees Celsius.

In late 2019, 12 people sued the event organisers; Car Festivals Pty Ltd, NT Major Events, and Summernats.

The federal court has approved a $3.2 million settlement in a decision handed down earlier this month.

Justice Robert Bromwich said the settlement was a "fair and reasonable" compromise between the event organisers and the people who had suffered injuries while watching the event.

He said there was a clear case of negligence on the part of organisers who failed to install adequate barriers between the spectators and the cars taking part in the burnout competition.

"One of the competitor cars, which was modified to be fuelled by methanol, was driven to perform a burnout on the burnout pad," Justice Bromwich said in his decision.

"The flames went in the direction of a spectator area which caused rubbish (including rubber detritus) on the burnout pad to catch alight and be projected towards the spectators."

Four people were flown to an intensive care unit in Adelaide following the incident, with one in a critical condition.

The case had been due to head to trial earlier this month but was cleared when lead applicant, Lynelle Bouchere, agreed to the settlement payout.

The exact distribution of the $3.2 million payout was not disclosed but included $1 million in legal fees.

A spokesperson for NT Major Events said the incident was "devastating for all involved".

"We remain deeply saddened by what happened," the spokesperson said. 

"NTMEC is pleased this matter has now been resolved. No further comment will be made."

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