Victorian father-of-two Bill Slade dies battling Omeo bushfire

The Forest Fire Management Victoria firefighter was killed while battling a blaze in the Omeo area on Saturday. Source: Facebook/ Forest Fire Management Victoria

Mr Slade had worked with Parks Victoria for more than four decades and had been acknowledged with a commendation for his work in November.

The Victorian bushfire death toll has risen to four after Forest Fire Management Victoria firefighter Bill Slade died battling a blaze in the state's alpine region.

The 60-year-old Wonthaggi man was struck by a falling tree while in the Omeo area on Saturday.

Mr Slade was an experienced firefighter and was recognised for 40 years of service in November last year.

He is survived by his wife Carol and two children Steph and Ethan.

"The safety and wellbeing of our people is our highest priority."

The firefighter's death will be investigated by Victoria Police, who will prepare a report for the coroner.

Mr Slade's death comes after another Forest Fires Management worker Mat Kavanagh, 43, died on duty when his vehicle crashed on the Goulburn Valley Highway on 3 January.

Mick Roberts from Buchan and Maramingo Creek man Fred Becker were also killed in the fires at East Gippsland on New Year's Day.

While bushfire conditions have eased, Mr Crisp warned there was a "long way to go" before the state's fire season was over.

"It is great to have some respite now, so we can reset and refocus in terms of our operational activities and what we can do to support community, but we will have more hot weather," he told reporters on Saturday.

"We are planning through until the end of March."

CFA strike teams performing controlled burning west of Corryong, Victoria.
CFA strike teams performing controlled burning west of Corryong, Victoria.

Cooler temperatures and rainfall eased conditions on Saturday after Friday's strong southwesterly whipped up fires in the alpine and East Gippsland regions.

While an emergency warning remains in place for a fire near Mount Hotham, the state of disaster declared for the regions has ended.

Milder conditions are forecast for the next week to 10 days, meaning attention can turn to gaining the upper hand on the more than 20 fires still burning.

The remains of a burnt-out property in Bruthan South, Victoria.
The remains of a burnt-out property in Bruthan South, Victoria.

Emergency Services Minister Lisa Neville said relieving exhausted emergency services workers was also a priority.

"People are very fatigued, that is the case with communities but also the case with our emergency service personnel, they are very exhausted and we need to be able to rotate in and out people," she told reporters on Saturday.

"We have got a chance to do that whilst we are also still doing a lot of the planning, a lot of the work that we can do to try and minimise the future impact of these fires."

More than 1.3 million hectares have been razed since 21 November, while 286 homes and 400 other buildings have been damaged.

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