Hero firefighter falls on Coles fireground
Updated: Jan 22
The South Australian Country Fire Service is mourning the loss of one of its finest with 44-year-old mother of two Louise Hinks killed by a falling tree on the Coles fireground on Friday morning.
The tragic incident occurred at the firefront at Coles, near Lucindale, where the blaze is running uncontrolled through bluegum plantations, scrub and grassland, a Country Fire Service spokeswoman confirmed.
Country Fire Service Chief Officer Mark Jones announced at a press conference on Saturday morning that 44-year-old volunteer firefighter Louise Hinks was killed by the falling tree.
Louise was an experienced firefighter who began her volunteering days with the Eden Hills Unit 28 years ago. On Friday she responded to the incident as a member of the Happy Valley CFS.
Louise is also an employee of the Emergency Service organisation SAFECOM and has provided Mental Health Support to emergency service personnel across the state.
Louise leaves behind a husband and two high school-aged daughters. Chief Officer Jones paid tribute to Hinks, saying she was a much-loved member of her unit and the CFS at large.
Premier Steven Marshall also paid tribute to Louise, describing her as a hero.
"As you heard from the chief, firefighting is inherently dangerous," Mr Marshall said.
"Louise Hinks has paid the ultimate sacrifice. She is a hero volunteer CFS firefighter".
A second firefighter was injured in the incident. He remains unnamed at this stage but is believed to be a 60-year-old member of the Happy Valley Brigade. Chief Officer Jones said that despite his serious injuries he is conscious and in good spirits.
"We are optimistic of a full recovery and our best wishes are with him and his family," said Cheif Officer Jones.
"In a cruel twist of fate, the COVID restrictions prevent his family from visiting him in hospital".
More than 200 firefighters were on the fireground on Saturday morning, which has been burning for several days but is not considered an immediate threat to lives or homes.
A CFS spokesperson said they will monitor conditions closely.
"The Coles fire is burning in bluegum plantations, scrub, and grassland," the spokesperson said.
"The hard work of CFS volunteers has prevented the loss of any homes or properties.
"CFS volunteers are working alongside and with the support of numerous agencies including NPWSSA, Victoria’s CFA, Farm Fire Units, forest industry crews and heavy plant machinery.
"In addition, SA Police, SES, St John SA and Salvation Army continue to provide support to firefighters and the community".
For up to date information regarding this fire please go online to the CFS website cfs.sa.gov.au