A volunteer firefighter has died after a truck crashed in southern NSW.
Two of his male colleagues also suffered burns in the incident on Monday evening near Jingellic, east of Albury.
“It’s believed that the truck rolled when hit by extreme winds associated with the fire,” the NSW Rural Fire Service said on Monday evening.
The firefighters were working on the Green Valley fire at the time which has burned more than 2000 hectares and was imminently threatening isolated properties on both sides of the NSW-Victoria border on Monday evening.
Another firefighter was taken to hospital after a second vehicle working in the same area was also blown over.
NSW detectives were on scene investigating the crashes on Monday evening.
The RFS said its thoughts were with all the firefighters’ families, friends and brigade members.
NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian tweeted the death was “just heartbreaking” and “words fail at times like this” while opposition leader Jodi McKay expressed “profound condolences” to the man’s family and community.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison acknowledged “these are testing times” and said he was “so grateful for the courage and dedication of our firefighters”.
“This is awful news for the families and our sympathies are with them,” he tweeted.
Federal opposition leader Anthony Albanese said the incident was “a tragic reminder of the very real dangers our emergency workers face to keep us safe”.
The incident takes to three the number of firefighters killed while battling blazes in NSW this season.
Geoffrey Keaton, 32, and Andrew O’Dwyer, 36, died on December 19 when a tree fell into the path of their tanker, causing it to roll, as they were travelling in a convoy near Buxton, southwest of Sydney.
The Green Valley fire – burning east of the Woomargama National Park – has crossed the Murray River.
Evacuation alerts were issued for the Victorian town of Walwa, Mount Alfred and Cudgewa on Monday evening with relief centres set up in Tallangatta and Corryong.
The fire is expected to spread quickly on Tuesday under strong winds and expected high temperatures.