'Our hearts are breaking with you': Pregnant widow farewells husband killed fighting bushfires

Tom Flanagan
News Reporter

Volunteer firefighter Samuel McPaul has been farewelled by his pregnant wife and dozens of colleagues following his death fighting an out-of-control bushfire last month.

The expectant father, 28, was killed when the truck he and his crew were travelling in was flipped over by cyclonic winds in a freak weather event as they fought the Green Valley Fire, 70km east of Albury near the Victorian border, on December 30.

Mr McPaul’s widow Megan accepted a bravery medal on behalf of her husband from NSW RFS Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons at his funeral at Holbrook Sports Stadium on Friday.

During the funeral, NSW Fire Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons hands Samuel McPaul's pregnant widow Megan his helmet. Source: AAP

Uniformed firefighters carried in his helmet as dozens of friends and family watched on alongside a large number of emergency service personnel.

His funeral was held inside the sports hall where he regularly played basketball and “loved to be”, senior chaplain Ian Spall said.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison and NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian were also in attendance.

"It's so difficult to comprehend the loss of Sam and none of us can be in your shoes at this difficult time," Mr Fitzsimmons said to Megan in his address.

"Our hearts are breaking with you."

Mr McPaul was the third NSW volunteer firefighter to die this bushfire season.

Geoffrey Keaton, 32, and Andrew O'Dwyer, 36, died on December 19 when a tree hit their tanker as they were travelling southwest of Sydney.

Albury RFS district manager Patrick Westwood told reporters after Mr McPaul's death he was "a beautiful young man" who was fully equipped and trained and doing everything right when the incident occurred.

Megan and Mr McPaul had been married for 18 months. Source: NSW RFS
Megan wipes away tears as she watches her husband's casket being loaded into the hearse. Source: AAP

With AAP

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