Toddler whose dad died fighting Australian bushfire receives bravery medal in his honour

2 January 2020, 20:01

Harvey Keaton was given his dad's medal for bravery posthumously
Harvey Keaton was given his dad's medal for bravery posthumously. Picture: NSWFS

By Kate Buck

A 19-month-old whose dad was killed battling the furious bushfires in Australia has been awarded a bravery medal on behalf of his father.

Geoffrey Keaton and colleague Andrew O'Dwyer died while on duty fighting the Green Wattle Creek fire, near Buxton in south-western Sydney on December 19.

The New South Wales (NSW) Rural Fire Service said Mr Keaton, 32, and Mr O'Dwyer died when their fire truck was struck by a tree, causing it to leave the road and overturn.

His infant son Harvey wore a uniform and sucked his dummy during his father's funeral on Thursday where dozens of firefighters formed a guard of honour to salute the coffin.

Harvey was presented with his father's posthumous Commissioner's Commendations for Bravery and Service.

Geoffrey Keaton, 32, was killed while on duty tackling blazes at Green Wattle Creek
Geoffrey Keaton, 32, was killed while on duty tackling blazes at Green Wattle Creek. Picture: NSWFD

The bravery award was given to the youngster by NSW Fire Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons at a ceremony, which was also attended by Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison.

Earlier today, Mr Morrison was branded an “idiot” by locals a fire-ravaged town who told him he “isn’t welcome.”

Locals in Cobargo, New South Wales, blasted the premier while he visited the town, where two people died earlier this week and many have lost their homes.

The state has already declared a week-long state of emergency as the threat from the out of control bushfires escalates.

The bravery award was given to the youngster by NSW Fire Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons at a ceremony
The bravery award was given to the youngster by NSW Fire Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons at a ceremony. Picture: NSWFD

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian announced the state of emergency on Thursday, she said the state was preparing for "what could be a horrible day on Saturday."

More than 50,000 people are without power and some towns had no access to drinking water.

On his visit to the town, Mr Morrison was approached by infuriated residents, who criticised his response to the emergency.

He was previously slammed for going on holiday to Hawaii as the crisis worsened before he was forced to return home by public outrage.

One local shouted: “What about your money for our forgotten corner of New South Wales, Mr Prime Minister?

"How come we only had four trucks to defend our town, ‘cause our town doesn't have a lot of money, but we have hearts of gold Mr Prime Minister."

He was laid to rest earlier today
He was laid to rest earlier today. Picture: NSWFD

Another added: "You won't be getting any votes around here buddy. You're an idiot. What about the people round here? "

Authorities have ordered tourists to leave a 155-mile zone along the picturesque south coast.

Since September, bushfires have killed 18 people and destroyed more than 1,200 homes across Victoria and NSW.

At least 17 people remain missing after fires this week alone as apocalyptic wildfires sweep across parts of the country.

Conditions are expected to worsen on Saturday, with high temperatures and strong winds returning to the area.

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