'Didn't want to leave': Tragic details emerge after hero's bushfire death

·News Reporter

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.

David Harrison died defending his friend's home from one of the fires. Source: Nine News
David Harrison died defending his friend's home from one of the fires. Source: Nine News

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

On Saturday, the region faced “unprecedented” fire risk as a dangerous southerly at speeds of up to 128km/h travelled up the coastline.

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.

After the fire was later lowered to Advice level, some residents returned to assess the destruction caused.

One ABC cameraman documented the devastation caused in the area to the native wildlife, filming “gut-wrenching footage” which showed dozens of dead animals strewn at the roadside.

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.

"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."

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