THE worst bushfires in Tasmania in almost half a century have claimed a Gippsland firefighter as their first fatality.
Veteran firefighter Peter Ronald Cramer, a 61-year old Tyers resident, was found dead near Taranna where he had been working on foot to identify containment lines.
Mr Cramer, a full time Department of Sustainability and Environment employee, had been deployed to assist in the Tasmania firefighting efforts.
He was found deceased on a track when he failed to make a scheduled call-in.
Questions have been raised as to why Mr Cramer had been by himself.
While the cause of Mr Cramer’s death is still the subject of an investigation, Tasmanian police have said there were no suspicious circumstances and would prepare a report for the coroner.
In separate statements, local politicians Russell Northe and Darren Chester expressed their sympathy for Mr Cramer’s family and remembered him for his extraordinary contribution to the community.
“His untimely passing, while assisting efforts to contain fires in Tasmania, is a tragedy that will be felt throughout the Tyers community and in firefighting circles,” Federal Member for Gippsland Mr Chester said.
State Environment and Climate Change Minister Ryan Smith also issued a statement, also calling Mr Cramer’s passing “a tragedy”.
DSE chief fire officer Alan Goodwin said in a statement Mr Cramer was an experienced firefighter with 30 years of experience with DSE in fire planning and management.
“(Mr Cramer’s wife) Julie and his family want to extend their thanks and express how truly well loved Peter was by everyone who knew him,” Mr Goodwin said.
“Peter was a training coordinator and had held previous roles as a project firefighter, an occupational health and safety coordinator and training and capability manager.
“Peter had over 22 years with the CFA as a volunteer at Gembrook, Swifts Creek and Tyers where he was a member,” he said.
Mr Cramer, who was born in Springvale, was deployed to the United States in 2003, which his family described as a “career highlight” for him.
“We knew that firefighters were his second family,” his family said in their statement.
“Peter truly believed his work made a difference to the community; he was a truly dedicated firefighter.”