'Just heartbreaking': NSW volunteer firefighter killed while battling blaze near Victorian border

Two other firefighters have suffered burns after the truck they were travelling in rolled, the New South Wales Rural Fire Service confirmed.

NSW RFS firefighters.

NSW RFS firefighters. Source: AAP

A volunteer firefighter has died and two others have suffered burns while battling the out-of-control Green Valley Fire, near the New South Wales-Victoria border. 

It is believed their truck rolled in extreme winds while attending the fire near Jingellic, approximately 70km east of Albury.

A fourth firefighter has also been transported to hospital after a second vehicle in the same area was blown over by the extreme winds, the NSW Rural Fire Service (RFS) said on Monday evening. 

The identities of the firefighters involved are yet to be confirmed but the NSW RFS said their "thoughts were with all the firefighter's families, friends and fellow brigade members."

"Further information will be provided in due course," the statement continued. 

Officers from the Murray River Police District attended the crash, a NSW Police spokesperson said.

An emergency warning has been issued for the Green Valley Fire, which is currently more than 2,000 hectares in size. Evacuation alerts have been issued for the Victorian towns of Walwa, Mount Alfred and Cudgewa.

The incident brings the death toll of volunteer firefighters during this year's catastrophic fire season to three.

Earlier this month, , were killed when their truck rolled near Buxton, south-west of Sydney. Both were fathers of young children and members of the Horsley Park Rural Fire Brigade.

Following the deaths, flags across the state were flown at half-mast as tributes poured in hailing Mr O'Dwyer and Mr Keaton "heroes". 

On Monday night, NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian tweeted that she was lost for words, describing the incident as "just heartbreaking". NSW opposition leader Jodi McKay also expressed her condolences on behalf of her party.  

"A brave firefighter has lost their life protecting the community east of Albury. Words fail at times like this," Ms Berejiklian said.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said he was "devastated" by the loss of a third volunteer firefighter. "These are testing times. We are so grateful for the courage and dedication of our firefighters," he wrote on Twitter. 

Meanwhile, opposition leader Anthony Albanese said the death was a "tragic reminder of the very real dangers out emergency workers face". 

The death comes a day after when they are deployed for more than 10 days this fire season.

As of 8.30pm on Monday, 14 emergency fire warnings remained in place across eastern Victoria, while four fires remained at emergency level in both NSW and Tasmania.

3 min read
Published 30 December 2019 at 7:21pm
By Maani Truu