Firefighters, many of them volunteers, are battling around 100 fires that have encircled Sydney amid drought and record-high temperatures
© Mick Tsikas/AAP
Firefighters, many of them volunteers, are battling around 100 fires that have encircled Sydney amid drought and record-high temperatures
The deaths of the two volunteer firefighters brings toll from the bushfires that have ravaged east for weeks to eight.

Two volunteer firefighters died while battling blazes around Sydney, authorities said on Friday, forcing Australia's Prime Minister Scott Morrison to cut short a holiday in Hawaii that had fuelled public anger at the government's response to the crisis.

Australia has been fighting bushfires across much of its east coast for weeks, leaving eight people dead, more than 700 homes destroyed and nearly 1.2 million hectares (3 million acres) of bushland burned.



As fires ringed Sydney, Australia's most populous city, the firefighters' truck hit a tree and rolled over just to the south of the city, killing the driver and a front passenger, police said. Three other people were injured.

"There is no finer person available in my view than someone who is willing to put themselves on the line for the want of nothing in return, no remuneration, nothing other than to make a positive difference in their local community," New South Wales (NSW) Rural Fire Service Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons told reporters.

"There is a definition of hero and these two line up to it."

Fitzsimmons named the dead firefighters as Andrew O'Dwyer, 36, and Geoffrey Keaton, 32. Both men were fathers to 19-month old children, Fitzsimmons said.

Earlier, three other firefighters were engulfed by flames as fierce winds fuelled bushfires across the same state. Two men were airlifted to hospital with burns to their faces, arms and legs, while a female colleague was taken by ambulance to hospital.

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian said the injured firefighters are now in stable condition.



Source: Reuters