Two New South Wales Rural Fire Service (RFS) volunteers have tragically died and another three are injured after their truck rolled in Sydney's south-west. Both the driver and front passenger died. The crash was on the front line of the Green Wattle Creek fire, which is still burning at emergency level.
The two victims of the fatal crash were both young fathers, Deputy Captain Geoffrey Keaton, 32, and Firefighter Andrew O’Dwyer, 36, both of the Horsley Park Brigade. The RFS states both men had served as volunteers for well over a decade, with Keaton joining in 2006 and O’Dwyer in 2003.
"This is an absolutely devastating event in what has already been an incredibly difficult day and fire season," an RFS statement said.
RFS Deputy Commissioner Rob Rogers claimed a tree came down on the truck at 11:30pm as it was travelling in a convoy to battle the fires.
"While this is an awful thing, it won't deter us from doing a lot of work today, trying to get a level of containment on these fires because it is going to be another awful day," Rogers said.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison issued a statement this morning saying he would be returning to Sydney from Hawaii as soon as possible. He also expressed "deep regret" for any offence caused by taking leave with his family over the past week.
The NSW Rural Fire Service Association President Mcdonough said, “Rural Fire Service volunteers and staff are devastated by the tragic incident which claimed the lives of two of our own and injured three others last night.
“Our hearts are breaking for the families, friends, and fellow crew members of Deputy Captain Geoffrey Keaton and Firefighter Andrew O’Dwyer from Horsley Park Brigade," he added. “Our members know that what we do can be dangerous, but nothing can take away the pain we all feel when facing such terrible loss.
“The RFS family is in mourning.”