One firefighter has died and another has been seriously injured after a tree collapsed on a fire truck battling an out-of-control bushfire in South Australia’s south-east.
The incident occurred at the firefront at Coles, near Lucindale, where the blaze was running uncontrolled through bluegum plantations, scrub and grassland, a spokeswoman for the state’s Country Fire Service said.
The injured firefighter has been rushed to hospital. His condition is unknown.
“Family and other personnel have been informed and are being offered support at this time,” the CFS said in a statement.
“The safety and wellbeing of our people is our highest priority and our thoughts are with our CFS family at this time.”
Jason Heffernan, the chief officer of Victoria’s Country Fire Authority, said: “CFA is devastated by the tragic death of a South Australian Country Fire Service firefighter and injury to another CFS member on the Coles fireground.
“We extend our deepest condolences and sympathies to the family, friends and colleagues of the firefighters.
“Firefighting is an inherently dangerous activity and I am grateful and proud of the commitment and sacrifices that Australian firefighters make every day.
“CFA stands with our CFS colleagues on the fireground, and in grief.”
More than 150 firefighters are monitoring the blaze, which has been burning for several days but is not considered an immediate threat to lives or homes.
An emergency warning was issued on Thursday night, when the fire broke through containment lines, but that was downgraded on Friday to an advice message. About 2,000 hectares have been destroyed so far.
South Australian firefighters are being supported by crews from Victoria along with forest industry units and local farmers. Water bombing aircraft have also been deployed.
“Crews will continue working along the fires’ perimeter and to actively fight any areas that may flare up due to the daytime weather forecast,” the CFS said.
“Whilst overnight conditions eased slightly, an increase in temperature and wind today is expected, which could hinder the efforts of crews on the ground.”
The CFS said locals should stay vigilant and monitor conditions throughout the next few days as it was expected that the conditions will continuously change.