A RELIEF Albury fire brigade inspector was one of two Australians shot upon while tackling a fire in the US.
Phil Eberle was among a group of firefighters working in Washington State who were forced to flee after being fired at, according to a debriefing note from the US Forest Service.
“The incident personnel watched with binoculars as one of the two individuals put a scoped rifle on a bi-pod and looked up the mountain toward them,” it stated.
“They continued to wave until a shot was fired ... they then bailed off the backside of the mountain to take cover as a second shot rang out.”
However, a spokesman for the the area’s sheriff said the matter was a “misunderstanding”.
“The evidence does not show they were in danger in any way other than them being completely surrounded by people and gunshots,” a Yakima County Sheriff’s office spokesman said.
The area had been closed to hunting and the firefighters, who were wearing bright yellow uniforms, yelled before shots were fired.
Mr Eberle returned to Australia on Saturday following the August 23 incident.
He was unavailable to talk to The Border Mail on Thursday.
Border NSW Fire and Rescue Inspector Stewart Alexander said Mr Eberle, who is based at Batemans Bay, regularly filled in as an administrator in Albury after having been permanently based in the city for several years.
Mr Alexander said Mr Eberle had told him via text messages that he was “okay” after his US drama.
“It’s obviously very concerning,” Mr Alexander said.
“We send people overseas to help our friends and while not knowing the full details it’s a worry.
“There’s always that element of risk (in firefighting) but this is something completely out of the ordinary.
“It’s odd to say the least and not something we see in NSW, I’ve never heard of any instance like that in my 26 years in NSW firefighting.”
Another Albury firefighter described Mr Eberle as a “dedication-plus” officer.
“He’s an awesome bloke,” he said.
“He would have put his hand up (to go to the US) and been off at the drop of a hat.
“They don’t tell you you’re going, I think you’ve got to ask and he would be the first one to ask.”
Mr Eberle is expected to return to work at Batemans Bay on Monday.
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