Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 1 April 2020

Honour guard for hero firefighter killed tackling Australian wildfires

Andrew O'Dwyer's daughter Charlotte received her father's service medal from the fire services commissioner

Dozens of Australian firefighters formed a guard of honour and stood with hand on heart on Tuesday to bid a solemn farewell to colleague Andrew O'Dwyer, one of three volunteers killed in the bushfires.

The firefighter, 36, was killed along with colleague Geoffrey Keaton on December 19 after a burnt tree fell in the path of their fire engine, causing it to roll.

A third firefighter was killed in an incident in late December in what authorities described as a "fire tornado".

Fires have now razed more than eight million hectares of land across Australia, killing 25 people and destroying or damaging thousands of homes, most in the south-east.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison, who has faced criticism for his response to the fires, attended the funeral in Sydney.

A firetruck from the suburb of Horsley Park, a suburb of Sydney where O'Dwyer was stationed, was inscribed with his name in white letters.

Dozens of volunteers formed a guard of honour as the fire engine and hearse went past, media reported.

O'Dwyer's young daughter, Charlotte, received her father's service medal from the fire services commissioner.

The toddler wore her father's medal and a fire helmet in front of his coffin.

A funeral was held for O'Dwyer's colleague, Keaton, last week, where his young son stood quietly, sucking on a pacifier, while receiving his father's medal.

The medals were awarded by New South Wales Rural Fire Services Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons, who lost his own father 20 years ago in a bushfire during a hazard-reduction burn, according to media reports.

Lobby group Business Council of Australia said it would set up a A$25 million (Dh63.1m) trust that could be used to pay for the education of children whose parents were killed volunteering in disasters.

Updated: January 7, 2020 03:10 PM

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