Expectant Father Identified As RFS Firefighter Killed Battling NSW Blazes
The New South Wales Rural Fire Service has identified Samuel McPaul as the volunteer firefighter who lost his life on Monday.
McPaul was part of the Morven Brigade in the Southern Border Team battling the Green Valley fire near Albury.
"Today Service flags will be flown at half-mast as a mark of respect. Our thoughts are with Sam’s family, friends & fellow Brigade members," the RFS said in a statement.
McPaul and his wife Meg were expecting their first child in May.
"Samuel leaves behind a family that is now without a father and without a husband and our condolences from the service and also from the wider community are with the family at the moment," said Patrick Westwood, NSW RFS District Manager Superintendent.
Westwood said McPaul was killed in a "fire tornado", that lifted the truck, inverted it and landed on its roof, trapping the three people inside.
Two of his male colleagues also suffered burns in the incident on Monday evening near Jingellic, east of Albury.
"It's believed that the truck rolled when hit by extreme winds associated with the fire," the NSW Rural Fire Service said on Monday evening.
The firefighters were working on the Green Valley fire at the time which has burned more than 2000 hectares and was imminently threatening isolated properties on both sides of the NSW-Victoria border on Monday evening.
Another firefighter was taken to hospital after a second vehicle working in the same area was also blown over.
NSW detectives were on scene investigating the crashes on Monday evening.
The RFS said its thoughts were with all the firefighters' families, friends and brigade members.
NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian tweeted the death was "just heartbreaking" and "words fail at times like this" while opposition leader Jodi McKay expressed "profound condolences" to the man's family and community.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison acknowledged "these are testing times" and said he was "so grateful for the courage and dedication of our firefighters".
"This is awful news for the families and our sympathies are with them," he tweeted.
Federal opposition leader Anthony Albanese said the incident was "a tragic reminder of the very real dangers our emergency workers face to keep us safe".
The incident takes the number of firefighters killed while battling blazes to three in NSW this fire season.
Geoffrey Keaton, 32, and Andrew O'Dwyer, 36, died on December 19 when a tree fell into the path of their tanker, causing it to roll, as they were travelling in a convoy near Buxton, southwest of Sydney.