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Aussie firefighter killed in ‘fire tornado’

Responding to the Green Valley fire in Jingellic, the crew were trying to save livestock that had been trapped in the blaze

SNS | New Delhi |

As massive bushfire rocked Australia, a 28-year-old volunteer firefighter was killed battling a blaze on the border of New South Wales (NSW) and Victoria states after a “fire tornado” upended the truck he and two others were travelling in, according to authorities on Tuesday.

Responding to the Green Valley fire in Jingellic, the crew were trying to save livestock that had been trapped in the blaze, Xinhua news agency reported.

“The crew decided to move away from that area and, quite unexpectedly, very suddenly, they experienced extreme winds and what could only be described as a fire tornado that lifted the back of the truck, fully inverted it and landed it on its roof, trapping the three people and unfortunately, one of them fatally,” NSW Rural Fire Service (RFS) District Manager Superintendent Patrick Westwood said.

“He thought he was in the right spot and just this freakish weather event that would have to be seen to be believed and even then other veteran firefighters who don’t believe what they saw, engulfed that vehicle with flame, fire, and strong winds and literally picked up an eight-tonne truck and flipped it over.”

Scorching temperatures of over 40 degrees Celsius and high winds has seen fire fronts in this area tear through more than 200,000 hectares of dense forest in the past few days, leaving thousands trapped.

In the coastal holiday town of Mallacoota, around 4,000 people, who are cut off from the highway, we’re preparing to put on life jackets and enter the ocean as bushfires bear down on them.

On Sunday, PM Morrison announced a compensation scheme for volunteer firefighters in New South Wales (NSW), who have been battling the catastrophic bushfires in the state.

Earlier, the New South Wales (NSW) state had declared a state of emergency, with bushfire conditions expected to worsen over the coming days as a record-breaking heatwave sweeps across the country.

In November, New South Wales’ Rural Fire Service said Thursday morning there were about 60 fires active, with 30 of them uncontained in the state where some 1,200 firefighters tried to mitigate the flames in the face of worsening conditions, such as rising temperatures and wind.

Dozens of fires also burn in the neighbouring state of Queensland and authorities have ordered an evacuation in towns such as Noosa North Shore and Woodgate.

The fires have been fuelled by tinder-dry conditions after three years of drought that experts say has been exacerbated by climate change, a factor that has sparked a sharp political debate in recent days.

Several new fires broke out to scores of blazes that have been burning for several days across New South Wales (NSW) state.

Bushfires occur frequently in Australia, but scientists say several weather phenomena have come together to make this spring-summer bushfire season among the worst on record.

(With input from agency)