Three fatalities after air tanker crash in Australia

New South Wales January 23

Tanker 134
Tanker 134 as it started a new contract with CAL FIRE. Coulson photo, April 11, 2019.

This article first appeared on Fire Aviation.

Updated at 6:01 a.m. PST January 23, 2020 (US time)

A C-130Q air tanker (N134CG) crashed in southern New South Wales Thursday January 23 (Australia time). All three members of the crew perished.

Coulson Aviation released a statement saying their aircraft, Tanker 134, had departed from Richmond NSW on a firebombing mission and went down in the Snowy Monaro area. There were three fatalities.

(UPDATE: the three men have been identified)

Tanker 134 had been working on a contract in Australia since August, 2019.

Tanker 134 (N134CG)
The last flight path of Tanker 134 (N134CG) recorded by FlightAware, January 23, 2020 U.S. local time.

The Australian Transport Safety Bureau will be investigating the incident which they said occurred at Peak View near Cooma, NSW. The agency is expected to release a preliminary report within 30 days.

map crash tanker 134
The marker shows the location of Tanker 134 that was last recorded on FlightAware.
location Tanker 134 crash
This Google Earth 3-D map shows the general location of Tanker 134 last recorded by FlightAware. The map is looking north.

New South Wales Rural Fire Service Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons said Coulson has grounded its entire fleet of air tankers out of respect for those who died. “Our hearts are with all those that are suffering in what is the loss of three remarkable, well-respected crew that have invested so many decades of their life into firefighting,” he said.

Cameron Price of 7NEWS Sydney reported on the incident:

Wreckage of missing RFS C-130 located by search crews. Reports only tail section intact. Aircraft has broken up on impact. Crews reporting difficult terrain and “terrible visibility”.

The Premier of New South Wales said out of respect for the crew flags would fly at half mast in the state, and:

Heartbreaking & devastating news that three US residents who were crew members operating a LAT in the Snowy Mountains region have lost their lives. Our thoughts & heartfelt condolences are with their families & the tight knit firefighting community.

The U.S. Ambassador to Australia, Arthur B. Culvahuse Jr. said:

I am deeply saddened by the tragic news we received today. The brave Americans who died near Snowy Monaro died helping Australia in its time of need. The families and friends of those who we have lost are in our thoughts and prayers. Thank you Australia for your sympathy and solidarity.

From the Canadian Interagency Fire Centre:

@CIFFC and its member agencies are deeply saddened by this tragic event. We send our condolences to our firefighting colleagues at #CoulsonAviation & @NSWRFS

Earlier the New South Wales Rural Fire Service reported that contact had been lost with a large air tanker that was working in the southern part of the state in the Snowy Monaro area.

Posted at 7:22 PST January 22, 2019 (US time)

Our sincere condolences go out to the families, friends, and coworkers of the crew.

Thanks and a tip of the hat go out to Tom. Typos or errors, report them HERE.

Firefighter killed on bushfire in Victoria, Australia

Near Omeo January 11

bushfire victoria december 30 2019
A fire in the East Gippsland region of Victoria, December 30, 2019. Photo by Ned Dawson for Victoria State Government.

UPDATED at 6:43 p.m. PST January 11, 2020.

The bushfires in Australia have claimed the life of a fifth firefighter. It occurred Saturday January 11 while a firefighter was working on a fire in the Omeo area of Victoria, Emergency Management Commissioner Andrew Crisp has confirmed.

Forest Fire Management Victoria Chief Fire Officer Chris Hardman said, “Bill Slade was working as a member of a task force at the Anglers Rest area and he was struck by a tree.”

“Family and fellow emergency personnel are being informed and will be supported,” he said. “The safety and wellbeing of our people is our highest priority. The matter will be investigated by Victoria Police who will prepare a report for the Coroner.”

Mr. Slade, 60, had worked for 40 years as a firefighter with Parks Victoria. He is survived by his wife Carol, daughter Steph and son Ethan.

Our sincere condolences go out to the family, friends, and co-workers.

Other recent firefighter fatalities in Australia:

January 3, 2020: Victoria Forest Fires Management worker Mat Kavanagh, 43, died on duty in a two vehicle crash on the Goulburn Valley Highway, in Victoria. His colleague was injured.

December 30, 2019: New South Wales Rural Fire Service volunteer firefighter Samuel McPaul died when a fire tornado or column collapse flipped his fire engine in New South Wales. Two other firefighters were also injured.

December 19, 2019: Andrew O’Dwyer and Geoffrey Keaton were killed while working on the Green Wattle Creek Bushfire when their truck hit a tree near Buxton in southwestern Sydney, New South Wales. They were both volunteer firefighters for the NSW Rural Fire Service.

At least 27 people have died in the Australia bushfires during the 2019/2020 bushfire season.

Thanks and a tip of the hat go out to Tom. Typos or errors, report them HERE.

More information about the December 30 firefighter fatality in New South Wales

Commissioner NSW RFS

On December 31 Shane Fitzsimmons, Commissioner of the New South Wales Rural Fire Service, provided more information about the December 30 death of firefighter Samuel McPaul.

One NSW firefighter killed and two suffer burns in truck rollover

It is believed that the truck rolled when hit by extreme winds associated with the fire

Map Green Valley Fire
Map showing the Green Valley Fire, produced at 4 a.m. local time December 31, 2019. The fire is 43 miles east of Albury, NSW. Map by Victoria Emergency.

UPDATE: The New South Wales Rural Fire Service has identified the firefighter killed at the Green Valley Fire as Samuel McPaul from the Morven Brigade of the Southern Border Team. Today Service flags will be flown at half-mast as a mark of respect.

Samuel McPaul
Samuel McPaul. Photo supplied by NSW RFS.

The New South Wales Rural Fire Service confirmed December 30 that a RFS volunteer firefighter died Monday evening near Jingellic. Two other firefighters on the same truck suffered burns and were transported to a hospital.

The firefighters were working on the Green Valley, Talmalmo Fire, approximately 70km (43 miles) east of Albury NSW when it is believed that “the truck rolled when hit by extreme winds associated with the fire” according to information released by the RFS. The incident occurred in NSW near the Victoria/NSW border 150km (93 miles) southwest of Canberra.

A second vehicle working in the same area was also blown over and the firefighter on board is being treated in a hospital.

Our sincere condolences go out to the family, friends, and coworkers of the firefighters.

New  South Wales has been experiencing numerous large bushfires for the last month and in recent days Victoria has as well.

On the day two firefighters were killed on the Carr Fire near Redding, California July 26, 2018 winds associated with the fire were estimated at 136-165 mph (EF-3 tornado strength), as indicated by wind damage to large oak trees, scouring of the ground surface, damage to roofs of houses, and lofting of large steel power line support towers, vehicles, and a steel marine shipping container. Multiple fire vehicles were damaged by flying debris and had their windows blown out.

Map Green Valley Fire
Map showing the Green Valley Fire

Thanks and a tip of the hat go out to Tom. Typos or errors, report them HERE.

Firefighters killed in New South Wales identified

They were members of the Horsley Park Brigade

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.

Andrew O'Dwyer firefighter killed
Andrew O’Dwyer with his daughter Charlotte.

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.

Geoffrey Keaton firefighter killed
Geoffrey Keaton and his son Harvey.

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.

Andrew O'Dwyer fire truck
Andrew O’Dwyer (far left) is seen with colleagues in front of the truck he was riding in at the time of the accident.

The NSW RFS has created a dedicated bank account to collect donations for the families.

Two firefighters in Australia killed when their truck hits tree and rolls

Two New South Wales Rural Fire Service volunteers have died and three other firefighters were injured

NSW RFS engine truck rollover lodd
It is believed the NSW RFS truck (not pictured) hit a tree before rolling off the road. NSW RFS photo.

Authorities said the truck was traveling as part of a convoy when it is believed to have hit a tree on Wilson Drive in Buxton, before rolling off the road about 11:30pm. (map)

The driver and front passenger both died at the scene. Three other passengers were injured and treated at the scene by paramedics.

It happened December 19 near the Green Wattle Creek Fire near Buxton in southwestern Sydney, one of two bushfires still burning at emergency level through Thursday night.

A crime scene has been established, and an investigation has been launched into the circumstances surrounding the crash.

(From the Australian Broadcasting Corporation)

Our sincere condolences go out to the firefighters’ friends, family, and coworkers.

Thanks and a tip of the hat go out to Tom. Typos or errors, report them HERE.