Flags at half-mast across NSW & ACT today in memory of volunteer firefighter killed while battling bushfire near Jingellic yesterday
Newlywed Samuel McPaul has been named as the third volunteer firefighter to die battling bushfires in two weeks.
McPaul, from the Holbrook area in southern NSW, died battling the Green Valley fire in southeast NSW.
He had been married for 18 months with his wife currently expecting their first child, due in early May.
The 28-year-old man died when the truck he was travelling in was blown over by extreme winds at about 6.00pm on Monday.
RFS Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons said on Tuesday morning that to label the death as tragic was an understatement.
“He was well respected in his community and brigade,” Mr Fitzsimmons said.
The RFS Commissioner was visibly shaken by the tragedy, pausing while on the verge of tears as he confirmed the volunteer firefighter’s death.
Mr Fitzsimmons spent Monday night with his family who are grieving their “extraordinary loss”.
Mr Fitzsimmons described “cyclonic winds” that flipped the fire truck McPaul was travelling in as a “fire tornado”.
The Green Valley fire that killed McPaul is still burning near the border of NSW and Victoria.
Premier Gladys Berejiklian said the news Mr McPaul’s death was “devastating” and that the NSW RFS had lost another member of their “family”.
The Premier urged people to listen to RFS warnings this New Year’s Eve and to avoid travel on roads that could be impacted by bushfires, like parts of the Princes Highway and Kings Highway.
“Your actions could unintentionally hurt others,” Ms Berejiklian said.
It understood that McPaul was firefighting with another passenger from the refuge area behind the main cabin when the truck rolled in Jingellic, east of Albury.
The other passenger, a 39-year-old man, suffered burns and was airlifted to The Alfred Hospital in Melbourne in a serious condition.
The driver was a 52-year-old man who was taken to Holbrook Hospital for treatment of minor injuries.
Scott Morrison tweeted that he was “devastated” another firefighter had perished in the blazes.