The family of hero firefighter Steven Kadar, who died in Victoria's Harrietville blaze, has paid tribute to his caring and loyal nature.
Mr Kadar, 34, died alongside 19-year-old Katie Peters, of Tallandoon, as the two Department of Sustainability and Environment (DSE) firefighters battled a large blaze burning in Victoria's Alpine region on Wednesday afternoon.
The two were part of a team working on the edge of the 27,000-hectare fire at Pheasant Creek Track, a remote area in the Alpine National Park, when a tree fell on their vehicle.
Mr Kadar's family said the keen fisherman loved the outdoors and always wanted to make a difference to others.
"Steven was a very caring and loyal person who loved his life in Corryong and his work with DSE complemented his love of the outdoors and his desire to make a difference," the family said in a statement.
"He loved the mountains and the country he worked in. Steven was held in extremely high regard by everyone he came into contact with.
"He went about his life in an unassuming way and yet he developed very strong friendships and relationships everywhere he went.
"Steven lit up the lives of his family and friends in the most wonderful way.
"Steven had a wicked sense of humour and an ability to turn unpleasant situations into humour.
"He had a great deal of interests which involved the outdoors, fishing, and four-wheel driving, and had become an accomplished social bowler."
Mr Kadar started with DSE as a project firefighter in 2004 and progressed into a full time field services officer.
"Steven was a highly valued and experienced firefighter and very much respected by his colleagues," DSE said in a statement.
DSE chief fire officer Alan Goodwin described the loss of the two firefighters as heart wrenching.
"The death of any firefighter is tragic - to lose young, dedicated people out there doing their jobs is especially so," he said.
Police say the pair were struck by the falling tree around 3.35pm (AEDT) on Wednesday but it took until after 8pm to reach them due to the hazardous conditions.
Towong Shire Council Deputy Mayor David Wortmann said his 19-year-old son had witnessed the incident when he driving in the convoy right behind the pair.
"I just felt so sorry for him and his crew to have witnessed and experienced such a tragedy," he told ABC Radio.
Australian Workers Union (AWU) Victorian secretary Cesar Melhem said DSE firefighters were unsung heroes who worked in difficult conditions, often with little recognition.The two firefighters have been praised for their courage and sacrifice, as flags flew at half mast on government buildings across Victoria on Thursday in their honour.
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