MELBOURNE: A firefighter died while on duty on Saturday (Jan 11) in Australia’s state of Victoria, raising the toll from this season’s devastating bushfires to 28 deaths as the government deploys mental health services to aid those in affected areas.
The firefighter was killed by a falling tree while battling the Australian wildfire crisis overnight.
“It is with great sadness that we confirm that a … firefighter from Parks Victoria has been involved in an incident while working on a fire in the Omeo area resulting in a fatality,” Forest Fire Management Victoria Chief Fire Officer Chris Hardman said in a statement.
“Although we do have enormous experience in identifying hazardous trees, sometimes these tree failures can’t be predicted,” Hardman said. “Working on the fire ground in a forest environment is a dynamic, high-risk environment and it carries with it significant risk.”
Since October, thousands of Australians have been subjected to repeat evacuations as huge and unpredictable fires scorched more than 10.3 million hectares (25.5 million acres), an area roughly the size of South Korea.