03/10/2020

Wonthaggi man Bill Slade, 60, was killed by a falling tree at the fire’s edge as he helped to contain the blaze in Omeo.

Emergency Management Commissioner Andrew Crisp confirmed the fatality late on Saturday night. It takes the total number of deaths this Victorian bushfire season to four.
Mr Slade was fighting a blaze in Omeo, near the Alpine National Park.
“It is with great sadness that we confirm that a Forest Fire Management Victoria firefighter from Parks Victoria has been involved in an incident while working on a fire in the Omeo area resulting in a fatality,” Forest Fire Management Victoria Chief Fire Officer Chris Hardman said.
“Family and fellow emergency personnel are being informed and will be supported.
“The safety and wellbeing of our people is our highest priority.”
Police will investigate the death and prepare a report for the coroner.
The sky turns red as fires close in on Omeo on January 4.Credit:Getty Images
An emergency warning was issued for a fire near Omeo on Friday, but was later downgraded to a watch-an-act.
Bairnsdale Incident Controller Brett Mitchell said the town came under threat before rain on Friday night subdued the fire’s intensity.
The death follows that of another Forest Fires Management worker, Mat Kavanagh, who was on duty when he was killed in a car crash.
The 43-year-old had been working as part of the fire response when he and his colleague were involved in a collision with another car on the Goulburn Valley Highway.
Mr Kavanagh was married with two children.
Mick Roberts of Buchan and Maramingo Creek man Fred Becker both died in the East Gippsland fires around New Year’s Day.
Bushfires have raged in East Gippsland since late November as fires around the state have burned through about 1.3 million hectares.
Paul is a reporter for The Age.
Ashleigh McMillan is a breaking news reporter at The Age. Got a story? Email me at a.mcmillan@theage.com.au