The heartbreaking stories of people killed in Australian bushfires

The fires in Australia have accounted for numerous deaths already; Patrick and Renee Salway (top left) and Samuel McPaul with his wife, Megan, who is pregnant with their first child. (Facebook, Getty)
The fires in Australia have accounted for numerous deaths already; Patrick and Renee Salway (top left) and Samuel McPaul with his wife, Megan, who is pregnant with their first child. (Facebook, Getty)

Words by Tom Flanagan

The bushfires sweeping parts of Australia have captured global headlines.

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And now some of the human tragedies are beginning to emerge.

In Cobargo, near the coast in the state of New South Wales, a father and son died in the early hours of Tuesday defending their home.

Salway, 29, was found dead by his mother at their family home on the outskirts of Cobargo, which was decimated by the Badja Forest Road fire on Tuesday.

She found her son alongside the body of her husband, 63-year-old Robert Salway.

She had left the property on Monday evening before returning on Tuesday, NSW Police confirmed.

Patrick pictured with his son and wife Renee. Source: Facebook
Patrick pictured with his son and wife Renee. Source: Facebook

Patrick and Robert Salway had refused to leave their property and decided to fight the encroaching fires moving into Monday night.

Patrick Salway’s wife Renee posted a tribute to her husband on Facebook.

“I love you now, I love you still, I always have and I always will,” she wrote.

“I will see you again Patrick, my best friend.”

She said she and their son Harley were “broken” and thanked the public for their concern as she shared two pictures of her husband, one with their son.

Friends and locals began to react to the devastating news online, many offering condolences to the men’s family.

Renee shared this photo of Patrick with their son Harley in the wake of his death. Source: Facebook
Renee shared this photo of Patrick with their son Harley in the wake of his death. Source: Facebook

“Very sad day. Taken way too young,” one person said.

“Sending our love to you and your family Renee. I’m so sorry,” another said.

Cobargo resident David Allen told The Daily Telegraph their deaths were a “bloody tragedy”.

“They were really good guys, just some salt of the earth blokes,” he said.

Renee and Patrick pictured on their wedding day. Source: Facebook
Renee and Patrick pictured on their wedding day. Source: Facebook

Mr Allen, who has known the family most of his life, said Patrick was an “affable” guy who loved horse riding and footy.

His father Robert was a “really community-minded bloke”, according to Mr Allen.

According to the Daily Telegraph, Patrick’s wife Renee is expecting the couple’s second child.

The two men both worked in the dairy industry and were well respected among other farmers.

Firefighter killed by tornado

Samuel McPaul, pictured with his wife Megan, who is pregnant with their first child. (Facebook)
Samuel McPaul, pictured with his wife Megan, who is pregnant with their first child. (Facebook)

Fighting these fires has cost the lives of nine firefighters so far - three were volunteers.

And the youngest, 28-year-old Samuel McPaul, died on Monday when what was described as “a fire tornado” flipped his truck off the ground while he attended a blaze near Albury, in southern NSW.

He was described by NSW fire chief Shane Fitzsimmons as an "extraordinary loss."

An emotional Fitzsimmons said in a news conference that McPaul was a “much-loved and respected firefighter”.

"The firefighter that lost his life was Samuel McPaul, Sam McPaul, a young man, 28 years of age, well respected and admired throughout the local community and in his local brigade. He leaves behind tragically a beautiful wife, Megan, who is pregnant with their first child, that's due on the fourth of May.

“As you would expect, the family is grieving and it's been a very difficult night. It would be fair to say I don't even think the comprehension has set in of the enormity of the tragedy and the loss.”

Prime Minister Scott Morrison posted a video address expressing sympathy over the death of McPaul.

“As 2019 draws to a close, the devastating impact of these terrible bushfires continues,” Mr Morrison said.

Cobargo obliterated by bushfire

Their deaths take this season's toll to 11, coming hours after a volunteer firefighter died in a truck crash involving a "fire tornado" on the Victoria-NSW border.

Hundreds of fires are burning across the country with about 100 in NSW  - 60 uncontained.

Fitzsimmons has warned property damage will be heavy with dozens of buildings being damaged or destroyed.

"We need to brace our ourselves for a considerable number of properties, a considerable number of homes that are likely to have been damaged or destroyed," he said.

"These fires have spread faster and further than the modelling and the fire weather predictions suggested they would. 

"It's been a truly awful day."



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