Man Dies While Defending Mate's Property From Bushfires
A 47-year-old man has died after helping defend a friend's property from bushfire in NSW's west overnight.
Premier Gladys Berejiklian announced at a Sunday morning press conference that the man had died of a suspected cardiac arrest at Batlow, in the state's south west slopes near Tumut.
Batlow had been identified as one of the state's major fire danger zones on Saturday.
"Our hearts, thoughts and minds go to their families during their very difficult time," the premier said.
Berejiklian said there were no people unaccounted for or missing in the NSW fires, which she said was a "huge, huge relief". However, RFS commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons feared properties lost could number into the hundreds.
NSW Police confirmed the Batlow death in a statement, saying the man had died while helping defend a friend's property from fire.
"About 6.30pm yesterday, a 47-year-old man was assisting in the effort to defend a home on Batlow Road when he went to a nearby ute with the intention of retrieving water," police said.
"When he didn’t return, the man’s friend went to check on him and found him unconscious in the vehicle."
The man's friend hopped in the car and drove until finding police. Officers tried to assist, but the man died at the scene.
"A report will be prepared for the information of the Coroner," police said.
RFS commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons said he had received reports the man had travelled from Goulburn to help defend his friend's property.
He also added that four firefighters had been injured in Saturday's horror fire conditions, including two suffering smoke inhalation and exhaustion at Milton and another with the same issues at Cessnock. A fourth firefighter suffered serious burns while attending to a house fire.
"They have been in hospital. Our hospital staff have done the very best for them overnight. I can report they've all been released and are at home this morning," Fitzsimmons said.
Berejiklian and Fitzsimmons both praised the efforts of firefighters and the general public, for working to ensure no other people were unaccounted for on Sunday.
"Our mission yesterday was to save life. Our mission during the night was to save human life. I want to thank, literally thank thousands and thousands of people who left behind their houses and properties to take safety," the Premier said.
"That's not to say we don't get bad news during the day, but indications at this stage there's no unaccounted people in New South Wales. That's the best news we could have hoped for this morning."
More to come.