A man who died after he stayed behind to help a friend save his home from a raging bushfire in NSW’s south has been hailed a hero by his family.
Goulburn resident David Harrison died of a heart attack while battling the blaze on Saturday night while defending the rural property near Batlow.
“He didn’t want to leave Geoff on his own. He was just that sort of guy. He would help anyone at the drop of a hat – he would drive hours to help you,” Mr Harrison’s brother Peter Harrison told Nine News.
He had travelled from his home, more than 250km away, to help his friend.
Mr Harrison, 47, had gone to his ute to get water but never returned.
His brother said he was “overcome by the heat, the smoke and exhaustion” as the pair tackled several spot fires surrounding the property.
His friend found him unconscious inside his ute and despite flagging down a police vehicle, Mr Harrison could not be revived.
His death took this season's NSW bushfire death toll to 18.
He is the ninth person to die in the NSW bushfires since the New Year’s Eve fires ripped through the state’s south.
Premier Gladys Berejiklian said as of Sunday morning there were no people missing in the fires.
More to come, RFS warns
Batlow, which was engulfed by the giant 290,000 hectate Dunns Road fire, was one of the hardest hit areas as at least 60 homes were lost in Saturday’s fires.
Yesterday @WesFangNats & I saw firsthand the devastation that tore through Batlow; a heartbreaking tragedy with a life lost and properties destroyed.
It was, however, incredible to see the great work of our @NSWRFS and volunteers, who saved so many homes, properties and lives. pic.twitter.com/fTLP0g3nvi
— Dr Joe McGirr MP (@DrJoeMcGirrMP) January 5, 2020
After the fire was later lowered to Advice level, some residents returned to assess the destruction caused.
Famous for its apple orchards, it is believed vast areas of agricultural land has been lost in Batlow.
While NSW RFS Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons, who has been widely praised for his relentless work during the bushfire crisis, said there was an opportunity for residents to recuperate following the weekend’s dangerous conditions, he said there was undoubtedly more to come.
— El-Amisty Nobo (@ElAmistyNobo) January 5, 2020
"There is an enormous amount of fire in that part of the world, these are not going to go out for some time," he said.
"We have been dealing with the fires non-stop now for more than five months and I can't see that changing over the next month.
"It makes you think ... just where that will end."
Do you have a story tip? Email: email@example.com.