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Australia fires: Son of firefighter Geoffrey Keaton awarded medal at funeral

New South Wales Rural Fire Service (NSW RFS) shows RFS Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons (L) pinning a medal on Harvey Keaton Image copyright AFP / New South Wales Rural Fire Service

The son of a volunteer who died fighting Australian bushfires has been presented with his father’s medal for bravery at his funeral.

Harvey Keaton, aged 19 months, wore a uniform and sucked on his dummy as he received his father’s posthumous medal at Thursday’s funeral near Sydney.

Dozens of firefighters formed a guard of honour to salute Mr Keaton’s coffin.

He and colleague Andrew O’Dwyer died on 19 December en route to a blaze, when their fire truck hit a fallen tree.

Mr O’Dwyer, also father to a toddler, will be buried next week.

The bravery award was presented to young Harvey Keaton by New South Wales Fire Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons. Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison also attended the funeral.

The prime minister said he was there to “remember and give thanks for the life and service of Geoff Keaton”.

Photos released by the New South Wales Rural Fire Service showed the toddler being held by his mother as they look at the coffin. A mug with the message “Daddy, I love you to the moon and back!” is seen on the coffin.

Image copyright EPA
Image caption The ceremony was attended by Mr Keaton’s family and his colleagues in the rural fire service
Image copyright EPA
Image caption Mr Keaton was one of three Australian firefighters killed in the recent fires

In addition to Mr Keaton and Mr O’Dwyer, another firefighter died on Monday when high winds overturned his truck, killing one and injuring two others.

Since September, a total 18 people have died as a result of the fires – seven of them in New South Wales this week alone. Others are missing.

Thousands of firefighters have been deployed every day for months, battling enormous fires that have yet to be brought under control. The vast majority are unpaid volunteers.

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Media captionBBC Weather’s Helen Willetts explains what’s driving Australia’s intense heat

Source: bbc.co.uk

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