Third firefighter dies fighting Australian bushfires

A volunteer firefighter died and two others were injured when a fire truck overturned


dpa, Hamburg, Germany

AUSTRALIA — A volunteer firefighter died Monday while fighting bushfires that are raging across eastern Australia, the Rural Fire Service reported.

The firefighter died when his fire truck overturned at Jingellic, 70 kilometers east of the New South Wales town of Albury, the RFS said in a statement on Twitter.

It is the third death of a volunteer firefighter since the fires broke out in October. Ninety percent of the firefighters battling the hundreds of blazes along the east coast are unpaid volunteers who leave their work to defend their communities.

Two other firefighters suffered burns in the incident. It is believed their truck rolled after being hit by extreme winds.

"A brave firefighter has lost their life protecting the community east of Albury. Words fail at times like this," New South Wales Premier Gladys Berejiklian said on Twitter.

Albury is close to the border of the state of Victoria, where firefighters battled an outbreak of new fires on Monday as a heatwave swept across the continent and caused thousands to evacuate.

Fire authorities in Victoria on the weekend told residents and holidaymakers in the Gippsland region, 322 kilometers east of Melbourne, to evacuate in anticipation of extreme fire conditions.

Victoria's Emergency Management Commissioner Andrew Crisp told reporters Monday that those who had not left the holiday town of Lakes Entrance by midday were trapped, as fires had blocked the only access roads.

An estimated 30,000 holidaymakers were in the region, and not all had heeded evacuation warning, he said.

"There's lightning coming out of these smoke columns," Crisp said. "It is dangerous out there and people need to stay tuned to their local conditions so they can make good decisions."

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©2019 Deutsche Presse-Agentur GmbH (Hamburg, Germany)

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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