'The ultimate sacrifice': Firies killed battling blaze identified as young dads

Tom Flanagan
News Reporter

The two volunteer firefighters killed as they raced to tackle an out-of-control fire in Sydney’s southwest have been identified as young fathers.

Geoffrey Keaton, 32, and Andrew O’Dwyer, 36, were en route to the Green Wattle fire near Buxton on Thursday evening when their vehicle veered from the road after a tree fell into their vehicle’s path.

Mr Keaton joined the RFS in 2006 and was Deputy Captain of the Horsley Park Rural Fire Brigade and a former member of the Plumpton Brigade.

Mr O’Dwyer joined the RFS in 2003, and is a member of the Horsley Park Brigade.

Andrew O'Dwyer (left) and Geoffrey Keaton (right) both died on Thursday evening as they rushed to the Green Wattle fire. Source: NSW RFS

“Our thoughts are with the firefighter’s family, friends and fellow brigade members,” RFS said in a statement on Facebook, sharing images of the men with their young children.

Three other firefighters were injured in the crash and were hospitalised.

The fatal accident occurred at the end of an exhausting day during which it's feared about 40 homes were lost in Buxton, Balmoral, Bargo and surrounding areas.

Dozens of tributes began to flood in for the pair, with many offering condolences to their families.

“They made the ultimate sacrifice and now their families will miss out,” one person wrote.

Rural Fire Service commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons said he spent the evening with the families of the dead firefighters.

Firefighters continue to be pushed to their limits at fires closing in on Sydney. Source: AAP

"To not be coming home after their shift is a tremendous grief and I applaud the families and the loved ones for their remarkable comprehension of what's been unfolding," Mr Fitzsimmons told reporters on Friday.

"Both of these men were very well respected, they were very close, they're a close-knit brigade, they're a very community-focused brigade, work together, socialise together, they're very interactive together.

"These men and women, our volunteers, are remarkable individuals.”

Scott Morrison to fly home from holiday after deaths

On Thursday, Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced he would be returning from his holiday abroad after news of their deaths.

“They were bravely defending their communities with an unmatched spirit and a dedication that will forever set them apart amongst our most courageous Australians," he said.

The Green Wattle fire remains at emergency level.

More to come.

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