Fire fighter dies in line of duty
By NERIDA BLOK
ON HIS way to helping others yesterday, a volunteer bush fire brigade officer died after suffering a suspected heart attack behind the wheel of his fire tanker.
Trapped for a short while in the cabin of the truck at the scene, the officer was cut free from the wreckage but died in an ambulance while being taken to hospital.
The officer, who was not named yesterday, was responding to a call-out when the truck veered off the road and collided with a power pole in Ballina Street, Lismore, about 3.30pm.
NSW Rural Bush Fire superintendent, Boyd Townsend, said late yesterday the officer had been to the annual special church service for the region's emergency services at the helicopter base yesterday when he was called to a car accident. "It's a real blow for the service and all involved," he said.
Mr Townsend said investigations by the police and other agencies would continue into the circumstances leading up to the accident.
Travelling 200 metres behind the bush fire truck when it collided with the power pole was Neil Jones, of Casino.
Mr Jones said he was turning the corner at the Dawson and Ballina street roundabout when the accident happened.
"It looked like slow motion," he said. "The pole just knocked straight out of the ground."
Mr Jones, who was on his way back to Casino after driving to Lismore to watch a game of cricket which had been cancelled, said the accident didn't seem real to him at first.
"It was a bad day," he said. "On the way over we passed another accident where a car had overturned near McKees Hill."