Shane Fitzsimmons, the Rural Fire Service commissioner, said those on board the plane were experienced and well known to their Australian and American colleagues.
“Our hearts are with all those that are suffering in what is the loss of three remarkable, well-respected crew that have invested so many decades of their life into firefighting,” he said at a news conference. The victims were not immediately identified.
Gladys Berejiklian, the premier of New South Wales, said the crash was a “stark and horrible” reminder of the dangers and risks of firefighting . At least five firefighters – three in New South Wales and two in the state of Victoria – have previously been killed this fire season. The overall death toll from the bush fires now exceeds
On On Thursday, fires were approaching the suburbs of Canberra, forcing the closing of its airport to flights. As temperatures climbed and winds picked up, residents in the affected areas around the capital were told that driving could be deadly and that they should seek immediate shelter.
Rain in recent days – a torrent in some areas, a few drops in others – had offered a small reprieve. But on Thursday, with temperatures soaring over 130 degrees in previously fire-stricken states like New South Wales, fire officials once again issued emergency warnings.