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Veteran Firefighter Killed While Tackling Blaze in Victoria

A veteran Australian firefighter has been killed while tackling a blaze in Victorias Alpine region, authorities have said.

Father of two Bill Slade was working as part of a task force to contain a fire in the Anglers Rest area near Omeo on Jan.11 when he was struck by a falling tree.

“Bill has been a long-serving member of Parks Victoria,” Chris Hardman, chief fire officer at Forest Fire Management Victoria (FFMV), said. “This is a significant loss for the Forest Fire Management Victoria family and for the Victorian community as a whole.”

Hardman said that “working on the fire ground in a forest environment is a dynamic, high-risk environment and it carries with it a significant risk,” before praising the firefighters for their continued efforts.

Australia fire
Australia fire
Fire crews put out spot fires in Sarsfield, Australia, on Jan. 4, 2020. (Darrian Traynor/Getty Images)

“Its been a really difficult and challenging experience for everybody, our forest firefighters, our men and women in green are out there day in and day out, working in our forests and endeavouring to protect our community and the environment they work in.

“We will continue to offer and provide all of the support necessary to Bills family, his work colleagues and friends and this has been a particularly challenging and difficult period for all of the emergency services,” he added.

Australia fire
Australia fire
A tired firefighter rests outside a cafe in Cann River, Australia, on Jan. 6, 2020. (Darrian Traynor/Getty Images)

Police will investigate the death with the states health and safety regulator and prepare a report for the coroner.

The 60-year-old from Wonthaggi is survived by his wife Carol, daughter Steph and son Ethan.

Parks Victoria CEO Matthew Jackson said that Slade was a “much loved colleague, friend, and member of the Wonthaggi” who will be “sorely missed by Parks Victoria.”

“Bill contributed over 40 years to firefighting and caring for National Parks in South Gippsland, and I pay tribute to his incredible service in land management and fire management over many years—and acknowledge the profound loss many in the community will be feeling today and in coming days.

“We are committed to supporting our teams in South and East Gippsland at this difficult time and have arranged counselling and additional support to our team members who have been fighting fires and working in Incident Control Centres in East Gippsland over several weeks.”

Australia fire
Australia fire
Bushfires burn between the townships of Bemm River and Cann River in eastern Gippsland, Australia, on Jan, 2, 2020. (Darrian Traynor/Getty Images)

“Parks Victoria, as a partner in the firefighting efforts with Forest Fire Management Victoria, is committed to the safety of our team. We are doing everything we can to keep our teams safe during this unprecedented fire season,” he added.

Slades death takes the states death toll to four this bushfire season after another Forest Fires Management worker, Mat Kavanagh, 43, died on duty when his vehicle crashed on the Goulburn Valley Highway on Jan. 3, local media reported.

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