Suspected heart attack kills Rural Fire Service volunteer

Emergency crews are at the scene of a bushfire at Buchanan. Photo: Perry Duffin

Emergency crews are at the scene of a bushfire at Buchanan. Photo: Perry Duffin


Paul Sanderson, deputy captain of North Rothbury Fire Brigade has been confirmed as the firefighter who lost his life at a blaze near Cessnock on Thursday.


A Rural Fire Service firefighter has died after battling a blaze near Cessnock in the NSW Hunter region. 

The volunteer firefighter was helping to contain a five-hectare bushfire at Stanford Merthyr on Thursday evening. 

The 48-year-old's fellow firefighters provided medical assistance, including with a defibrillator, until paramedics arrived at the scene. 

The man was taken to John Hunter Hospital but police confirmed the man couldn't be revived. 

NSW RFS Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons said the man's death was a tragic reminder about the dangers members face.

"This is a terrible tragedy, where somebody who has gone to assist the community in its time of need, has paid the ultimate sacrifice," Commissioner Fitzsimmons said.

"Our thoughts, prayers and condolences are with the member's family, fellow brigade members, and colleagues.

"We are offering every assistance possible to the volunteer's family and his colleagues."

Earlier on Thursday more than 70 firefighters battled the 58-hectare bushfire at Buchanan in soaring temperatures and strong north westerly wind. 

The blaze was sparked before 11am in a difficult to reach area near Cessnock. A fire investigator was deployed to the fire ground to try to determine what caused the bush blaze. 

A child care centre in the area was evacuated to a nearby bowling club as a precaution.

Hunter Rural Fire Service Inspector Glenn Byrnes said about 15 firefighting vehicles were at the scene of the fire near Avery’s Lane, between John Renshaw Drive and the M15 Hunter Expressway. Two helicopters were also deployed to water-bomb the fire.

Both westbound lanes of the M15 were closed in the early afternoon because of the smoke, but one lane was reopened about 5.30pm. 

A total fire ban had been introduced on Wednesday in anticipation of Thursday’s weather conditions.

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