‘We are broken’: Fire death toll mounts

 

The death of 29-year-old Patrick Salway, who died alongside his father as they tried to save their southern NSW farm from fire, has devastated his wife.

"I love you now, I love you still, I always have and I always will," Renee Salway said on Tuesday night.

"I will see you again Patrick, my best friend. Hope you are up there 'fixing things in the stars tonight'."

Tragically, Renee is pregnant with the couple's second child.

Patrick, a young father and dairy technician, and his 63-year-old father Robert Salway were found dead on Tuesday by Robert's wife.

The men had stayed back to save the family home in Wandella, about 10km northwest of the gutted township of Cobargo.

Patrick Salway with his wife Renee.
Patrick Salway with his wife Renee.

 

"Two amazing men from such a beautiful family," Kristy Wren posted online on Tuesday.

"Patrick, you were always the life of the party. I will always cherish the memories I have of you."

 

Patrick Salway died trying to defend his property against a bushfire at Cobargo with his father Robert Salway.
Patrick Salway died trying to defend his property against a bushfire at Cobargo with his father Robert Salway.

 

Meanwhile, tributes piled up for volunteer firefighter and expectant father Sam McPaul, who was killed fighting fires on the Victoria-NSW border on Monday evening.

The Holbrook man, 28, was killed on a property at Jingellic, east of Albury, on Monday evening after the truck he was on was hit by winds described by on-scene crews as a "fire tornado".

The 10-tonne truck was flipped on its roof and Mr McPaul died at the scene. He'd been expecting his first child in May with his wife Megan, whom he married in 2018.

The McPaul family had lost a "champion bloke", Brayden McPaul said.

"We are all shattered and can't believe that it is really true," he posted online.

 

Sam McPaul was killed when the RFS truck he was in was rolled by ferocious winds at the bushfires frontline.
Sam McPaul was killed when the RFS truck he was in was rolled by ferocious winds at the bushfires frontline.

 

"Sam, you will be truly missed and have gone down a hero trying to save the things you care about." Jen Hyde said she was absolutely devastated.

"Still cannot believe it, you were just at my house on Sunday holding my Olly and giving me hugs," she said.

Glenn McLeod remembered his "dearest friend" by posting a photo of the pair at Mr McPaul's wedding, saying Mr McPaul was due to come around for a New Year's Eve roast.

"I can't believe you're gone," he said.

 

A Rural Fire Service firefighter conducts mopping up near the town of Sussex Inlet on New Year’s Eve. Picture: Getty Images
A Rural Fire Service firefighter conducts mopping up near the town of Sussex Inlet on New Year’s Eve. Picture: Getty Images

 

An emotional Rural Fire Service commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons on Tuesday said "hearts were breaking" at the RFS for the McPaul family.

"I don't think the comprehension has set in yet, of the enormity of the tragedy and the loss," Mr Fitzsimmons told reporters.

Mr McPaul is the third firefighter to die since December 19, when a tree fell into the path of a tanker carrying young fathers Geoffrey Keaton, 32, and Andrew O'Dwyer, 36, near Buxton.

AAP