Fighting a Major Bush Fire
TWO AUSTRALIAN FIREFIGHTERS have been reported to have perished while fiighting a bush fire in the northeast region of Victoria in Wednesday afternoon. Nine News television is reporting:
The Department of Sustainability and Environment (DSE) firefighters were believed to have been killed near Harrietville, south of Bright, where a bushfire is currently burning out of control.
The Australian Workers Union Victorian branch has said two men died in the line of duty at a fire in the Ovens region today but authorities have not confirmed the information.
It is believed the men were on the western edge of the blaze at Pheasants Creek Track when a tree fell on their 4WD, Nine News reports.
Their identities have not yet been disclosed either.
Some of the CFA firefighters catch some Z's recently at the
bush fire that is expected to take several more weeks to extinguish.
(News Limited photo)
Since that early report, the government authorities have confirmed two fatalties, but are unable to identify them because the bodies are still behind the fire lines and have not yet been recovered. The AAP is reporting via SBS One:
Australian Workers Union Victorian secretary Cesar Melhem said two DSE firefighters had been killed.
"Our members have confirmed that two firefighters unfortunately lost their lives," Mr Melhem told AAP. Mr Melhem said the deaths were a shattering loss for the firefighters' families, their workmates, the union and all Victorians.
"These DSE firefighters work in the most horrific conditions imaginable, away from the big centres, out in the bush, and with very little recognition for their heroic contribution to this state," Mr Melhem said in a statement. "They have died heroes, which will be small comfort to those that grieve them."
The union said the identity of those who had died had not been confirmed.
"The priority at this stage will be to recover the bodies because they're still behind the fire lines and attend to the rest of the firefighters making sure all of the support has been provided to them," Mr Melhem said.
Update: The Herald Sun is now reporting that the fatalities have been identified, but not their names. Fifteen minutes ago they posted:
The Department of Sustainability and Environment officers were killed yesterday afternoon by a tree that fell on their vehicle. Authorities confirmed last night the victims were a man in his 30s from Corryong and a woman in her late teens from Tallandoon.
They were working around the remote Pheasant Creek Track at Selwyn, 170km north-east of Melbourne. Emergency services converged on the area last night, braving the fire, harsh terrain and the risk of of further falling trees.
The pair had been part of a major effort fighting the fire that has been burning in the Harrietville area for weeks, intermittently threatening communities.
The fire threat prevented emergency crews from getting to the pair. Officers did not get to the scene until 8.10pm. A coroner will head to the scene this morning.
They are the third and fourth Victorian firefighters to die this summer.
Firegeezer will update this story when warranted.
Hat tip: Darren V.
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