19 Feb 2009

Firefighter dies near Marysville

10:25 pm on 19 February 2009

A firefighter has died after being hit by a falling tree near Marysville, northeast of Melbourne.

Police say the man was travelling in a fire tanker at the time. Another person in the same vehicle was unhurt.

ACT Emergency Services Agency Commissioner Gregor Manson confirmed the firefighter's death. "We are all in shock at the news we've received tonight and send our deepest sympathy to the firefighter's family, friends and work colleagues."

The man was due to return to Canberra on Wednesday after a three-day deployment to Victoria.

Earlier, a New South Wales firefighter was taken to hospital after being hit by a falling tree branch near Healesville.

Meanwhile, firefighters at Wilson's Promontory continue to battle an 11,000-hectare blaze that is being fanned by high winds.

Some fire crews have been pulled out of the area because of the dangerous conditions.

The death toll from the bushfires currently stands at 200.

The federal government has given almost $13 million in emergency relief payments to fire victims.

The Insurance Council of Australia has expressed concern about the number of people affected by the bushfires who have no insurance.

Council spokesperson Paul Giles says that, with 5,500 claims lodged, it is becoming apparent that a significant number of people are uninsured.