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4 firefighters die as bushfires sweep Australia

Australian bushfires have killed four firefighters   
January 3, 1998
Web posted at: 1:37 p.m. EST (1837 GMT)

SYDNEY, Australia (CNN) -- Thousands of firefighters were battling dozens of bushfires raging out of control Saturday as Australia endured a hot, dry, windy summer. Four firefighters have been killed trying to douse the flames.

"Unfortunately, as we continue to fly across the state, we're finding more and more fires as a result of lighting storms in recent days. And that pattern will clearly continue until the lightening stops or the rain starts," said Rural Fire Service Commissioner Phil Koperberg.

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At least 30 fires were burning in the state of New South Wales, while in the neighboring state of Victoria, 30,000 hectares (74,000 acres) of bushland were expected to be destroyed.

Fires were also reported burning out of control in Western Australia, Tasmania and Queensland.

One firefighter died Thursday when flames engulfed a fire truck and its crew about 100 kilometers (62 miles) southwest of Sydney. The men were fighting a forest fire when a change in weather conditions forced them to seek safety in the truck.

Michael Young
Firefighter Michael Young nearly died trying to save the life of a colleague   

David Quinlivan, 45, died after turning the fire truck around to protect his colleagues. Another firefighter, Michael Young, 31, ignored severe burns to revive a co-worker who was unconscious. Young was praised for his heroism. He and the other survivors were in critical condition Friday.

The other three firefighters died in the past four weeks.


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