Three firefighters from the Australian National Parks and Wildlife Service were killed June 8 in what should have been a routine mop-up operation the day after a controlled burn in Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park on the outskirts of Sydney. The dead firefighters included a woman, 25-year-old Claire Dean, a field officer who had been with the NWPS for only six months. The others were Eric Furlan, 51, and George Fitzsimmons, 52; Fitzsimmons was the father of the Deputy Commissioner of the New South Wales Rural Fire Service.
Four other firefighters were severely injured, among them Natalie Saville, 25, who joined the NWPS at the same time as Claire Dean and trained with her. She is in intensive care and in stable condition at Concord Repatriation Hospital. Two other crew members -- Mark Douglas Cupit and Jamie Dobson Shaw -- were in critical and unstable condition; the fourth, Luke McSweeney, was on life support.
It was not immediately clear what had caused the fire to flare up and surround the crew, though it may have been a sudden increase in the wind (which had initially been negligible) and a change in its direction.
NETWORKING THE WOMEN OF TODAY'S FIREFIGHTING WORLD, AND PROVIDING RESOURCES TO HELP BUILD THE FIRE SERVICE OF THE FUTURE