Two of the heroic men were fathers to young children, and one was expecting his first child in just a few months.
Samuel McPaul, Geoffrey Keaton, and Andrew O’Dwyer were fighting the flames in New South Wales when they lost their lives.
According to the NSW Rural Fire Service (RFS), both Keaton and O’Dwyer died after a fallen tree caused their truck to roll off the road and overturn. Both men were fathers to 20-month-old children.
Firefighter McPaul was involved in a similar incident when extreme winds associated with the fire caused his truck to rollover.
The Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison released a statement, honoring the lives of the men.
“I express my sincere condolences and sympathies to the families of the firefighters who have so tragically been killed overnight,” Morrison wrote. “They were bravely defending their communities with an unmatched spirit and a dedication that will forever set them apart amongst our most courageous Australians. Their sacrifice and service saving lives and saving properties will be forever remembered.”
Firefighter McPaul’s wife is currently expecting their first child and is due in May.
The RFS shared condolences on their website. “This is a devastating loss to Samuel’s family and his broader NSW RFS family. Samuel was a young man with his whole future ahead of him… The young couple were in the midst of preparations to welcome their baby and Megan is now facing parenthood without Samuel.”
The RFS has now set up a bank account to collect donations for the families of volunteer firefighters who have been killed while on duty this fire season.
“All funds received will be equally distributed between the spouses of Geoffrey and Andrew, and tax receipts will be issued to donors. Donations for McPaul will be distributed to Samuel’s wife, Megan, to provide for their baby’s future.”
Katie Nave is a freelance writer, producer, and mama living in Brooklyn, New York. Driven by her passion for storytelling, she is always seeking opportunities to elevate people who are working to better the world around them.