Trib­utes to fire­men killed bat­tling blazes

PM SORRY FOR TAK­ING HOL­I­DAY

Manchester Evening News - - WORLD -

TRIB­UTES have been paid to two volunteer fire­fight­ers who died while bat­tling wild­fires in Aus­tralia, forc­ing PM Scott Mor­ri­son to cut short his fam­ily hol­i­day.

Geoffrey Keaton, 32, and An­drew O’Dwyer, 36, were in a truck con­voy fight­ing blazes south-west of Syd­ney when a tree fell and caused the ve­hi­cle to roll off the road. The two men, both fa­thers to 19-month-old chil­dren, died at the scene while three other fire­fight­ers were in­jured.

Ru­ral Fire Ser­vice Com­mis­sioner Shane Fitzsim­mons spent the night con­sol­ing fam­i­lies of the vic­tims. “To not be com­ing home af­ter their shift is a tremen­dous grief,” he told re­porters. Mr Mor­ri­son said the fire­fight­ers were “bravely de­fend­ing their com­mu­ni­ties with an un­matched spirit and a ded­i­ca­tion that will for­ever set them apart amongst our most coura­geous Aus­tralians”. Mr Mor­ri­son has re­ceived crit­i­cism for go­ing to Hawaii dur­ing the cri­sis, but said he would cut short his hol­i­day and re­turn to Syd­ney to­day.

“I deeply re­gret any of­fence caused to any of the many Aus­tralians af­fected by the ter­ri­ble bush­fires by my tak­ing leave with fam­ily at this time,” Mr Mor­ri­son said.

Scott Mor­ri­son

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