Australian Firefighter Hit by Tree Killed

Friends of a 60-year-old volunteer firefighter who died after a tree fell on him while he was mopping up after a fire in the State's South West described him as a jovial community-minded character.

Hori Clarke, a retired granite worker, was seriously injured after a tree branch fell on him about 10.30am yesterday while he was cleaning up embers from a fire which started on Thursday night on a farming property on Pinjarra Williams Road in Quindanning, about 160km south of Perth.

He was rushed to Narrogin Hospital where he was pronounced dead on arrival.

The Department of Fire and Emergency Services said Mr Clarke was not registered as a volunteer bush firefighter but the Shire of Williams said he was a volunteer.

Friend Ken Curteis said Mr Clarke had lived in Quindanning for about 10 years but was originally from New Zealand.

He was a good, friendly guy and he worked hard all his life, he said.

It is understood he lived alone in Quindanning but has family in Mandurah.

Association of Volunteer Bush Fire Brigades of WA president Terry Hunter said the man had been helping the Quindanning fire brigade when the incident happened.

Police Insp. Derek Staats said two or three people had been next to the man when the branch fell from the 18m tree, which had been weakened by fire. WorkSafe inspectors will not be able to access the area until it is deemed safe, which may not be until Monday.

Police will investigate the death on behalf of the State Coroner.

It comes as the United Firefighters Union calls for an immediate upgrade of safety equipment after two career firefighters were forced to flee their truck on Thursday when searing heat from a blaze near Tonkin Highway overcame them.

If they had stayed in the cab they would have been in serious trouble because they had no systems to keep them safe like drop-down curtains, fire blankets or external sprays, UFU WA secretary Kevin Jolly said.

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