The New South Wales Rural Fire Service (NSW RFS) has identified the two volunteer firefighters that were killed December 19 while working on the Green Wattle Creek Bushfire near Buxton in southwestern Sydney.
Firefighter Andrew O’Dwyer, 36, joined the Service in 2003, and is a member of the Horsley Park Rural Fire Brigade.
Firefighter Geoffrey Keaton, 32, joined the Service in 2006 and is a Deputy Captain of Horsley Park Rural Fire Brigade, and a former member of Plumpton Brigade.
A spokesperson for the the NSW RFS said, “That tree came down in front of that truck, the truck impacted that tree and then rolled resulting in fatalities to two of our firefighters.”
The incident occurred just before midnight at the end of a long shift. Both of them, members of the Horsley Park Brigade, were in the front seat of the truck and died at the scene. Three other passengers were injured and treated at the scene by paramedics.
RFS commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons said, “They work together, socialize together, they’re very interactive together. Their respective partners and wives shared a lot in common with their camaraderie and connection with the brigade,” he said.
“Geoff has a young son Harvey, and Andrew has a young daughter Charlotte, and both of those children were born two days apart back in May so they’re 19 months of age, which is just terrible.”
NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian said: “I don’t think you can think of a worse set of circumstances to see two young fathers lose their lives in this way.”
On the night of Mr. Keaton’s death, his father John was fighting a a very large fire in Gospers Mountain northwest of Sydney, while his son was at the Green Wattle Creek Fire.
The NSW RFS has created a dedicated bank account to collect donations for the families.