Australia fires: Volunteer firefighter dies after truck rolls over in extreme winds

A volunteer firefighter has died and two others suffered severe burns after a truck rolled over when it was hit by extreme winds, Australia's Rural Fire Service confirmed. This is the third volunteer firefighter to have died during the wildfires which have ravaged the country in recent months, killing 10 civilians and razing over 1,000 homes. The incident occurred near the town of Jingellic, as the firefighters battled to get the blaze in Green Valley under control.

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Another vehicle was also blown over in the area and one volunteer firefighter has been taken to hospital, reported the Sydney Morning Herald.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison tweeted his condolences and said: "This is awful news for the families and our sympathies are with them. These are testing times. We are so grateful for the courage and dedication of our firefighters."

A number of total fire bans have been put in place around the state of New South Wales, including the greater Sydney area, in an effort to stop the fires from spreading.

On Monday, temperatures exceeded 40C in every state as a heatwave driven by a climate system in the Indian Ocean swept through the country.

According to New.com.au, temperatures on New Year's Eve are expected to soar to 35C in Sydney and 45C in the suburbs.

The high heat coupled with strong winds on the day are expected to cause severe fire danger. The loss comes as the NSW Rural Fire Service made the decision to grant Sydney's New Year's Eve fireworks an exemption to the ban despite a worsening wildfire risk. Nearly 300,000 people have signed a petition calling for the firework display to be cancelled and the money spent on firefighters and farmers.

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A firefighter works on a bushfire believed to have been sparked by a lightning strike that has ravaged an area of over 2,000 hectares in northern New South Wales state

AFP via Getty Images

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A dehydrated and injured Koala receives treatment at the Port Macquarie Koala Hospital

AFP via Getty Images

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A water tanker airplane drops fire retardant on a bushfire in Harrington, New South Wales

EPA

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Firefighters tackle a bushfire to save a home in Taree, 350km north of Sydney

AFP via Getty Images

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A kangaroo is seen by the burnt remains of a vintage car in Torrington

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Photo taken on November 9, 2019 shows bushfires taken from a plane in over north eastern New South Wales

AFP via Getty Images

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Andrew Mackenzie surveys the damage around his home in Torrington

Getty Images

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Fire and Rescue NSW firefighters conduct property protection as a bushfire burns close to homes on Railway Parade in Woodford NSW

AP

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Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison (L) comforts 85-year-old resident Owen Whalan at an evacauation centre in Taree 350km north of Sydney

AFP via Getty Images

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Fire burns at Bolivia Hill in Glen Innes

Getty Images

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A resident puts out small fires as he rides his motorcycle in Old Bar, New South Wales

EPA

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A fire rages in Bobin, 350km north of Sydney on November 9, 2019, as firefighters try to contain dozens of out-of-control blazes

AFP via Getty Images

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Construction workers speak as smoke haze drifts over Sydney, Australia

EPA

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A vintage Jaguar car sits in ruins after a bushfire destroyed a property in Old Bar, 350km north of Sydney

AFP via Getty Images

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A fire rages in Bobin, 350km north of Sydney

AFP via Getty Images

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A firefighter works on a bushfire believed to have been sparked by a lightning strike that has ravaged an area of over 2,000 hectares in northern New South Wales state

AFP via Getty Images

2/15

A dehydrated and injured Koala receives treatment at the Port Macquarie Koala Hospital

AFP via Getty Images

3/15

A water tanker airplane drops fire retardant on a bushfire in Harrington, New South Wales

EPA

4/15

Firefighters tackle a bushfire to save a home in Taree, 350km north of Sydney

AFP via Getty Images

5/15

A kangaroo is seen by the burnt remains of a vintage car in Torrington

Getty Images

6/15

Photo taken on November 9, 2019 shows bushfires taken from a plane in over north eastern New South Wales

AFP via Getty Images

7/15

Andrew Mackenzie surveys the damage around his home in Torrington

Getty Images

8/15

Fire and Rescue NSW firefighters conduct property protection as a bushfire burns close to homes on Railway Parade in Woodford NSW

AP

9/15

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison (L) comforts 85-year-old resident Owen Whalan at an evacauation centre in Taree 350km north of Sydney

AFP via Getty Images

10/15

Fire burns at Bolivia Hill in Glen Innes

Getty Images

11/15

A resident puts out small fires as he rides his motorcycle in Old Bar, New South Wales

EPA

12/15

A fire rages in Bobin, 350km north of Sydney on November 9, 2019, as firefighters try to contain dozens of out-of-control blazes

AFP via Getty Images

13/15

Construction workers speak as smoke haze drifts over Sydney, Australia

EPA

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A vintage Jaguar car sits in ruins after a bushfire destroyed a property in Old Bar, 350km north of Sydney

AFP via Getty Images

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A fire rages in Bobin, 350km north of Sydney

AFP via Getty Images

But the city's lord mayor Clover Moore said the fireworks must go on as cancelling them "would have little practical benefit".

She wrote in a response to the petition: "Our fireworks are planned 15 months in advance and most of the budget - which is largely allocated to crowd safety and cleaning measures - has already been spent."

She said the event will be used to raise funds for the Australian Red Cross Disaster Relief and Recovery Fund.

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Mr Morrison backed the iconic fireworks, telling reporters on Sunday they were an "optimistic and positive" symbol.

"On New Year's Eve, the world looks at Sydney.

Every single year.

And they look at our vibrancy, they look at our passion, they look at our success," he said.

"And so in the midst of the challenges that we have to face, subject to the safety considerations, I can think of no better time to express to the world just how optimistic and positive we are as a country."

Firework displays have been cancelled in Victoria and Canberra, with emergency authorities anxious that thunderstorms and windy conditions will heighten the risk of fire spreading.

Additional reporting by agencies

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