The Coroners Court of NSW has heard details of the frantic attempt to save a man's life during the Dunns Road bushfire last year.
Goulburn's David Harrison, aged 47, died on January 4, 2020 while helping friend and Batlow resident Geoff Purcell defend his property from the fire.
NSW Police officer in charge of the Dunns Road Strike Force fire investigation, Detective Senior Constable Peter Alexander, was questioned at an ongoing inquiry into the 2019-20 summer bushfires on Monday.
Detective Alexander said Mr Purcell found Mr Harrison in a state needing medical assistance after the fire entered the property on the far western side.
"David was left behind to fill up the [vehicle water] tank and Geoff went out to fight the fire," he told the inquiry.
"When he got back he was slumped in the ute ... he got David into the car properly and then drove as fast as he could towards Tumut for medical assistance."
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"The police got David out of the vehicle and saw that he was not responsive and began CPR. Another forestry unit came by and tried to retrieve a defibrillator," he said.
"Ambulance were called as well. By the time they all got there and began working on David, trying to revive him, they just couldn't, unfortunately."
NSW Police detectives were also questioned on Monday about how the investigation established the likely ignition source for the bushfire, which went on to burn 334,000 hectares, destroy more than 200 homes and buildings and devastate farms and timber plantations.
Detective Alexander said it was most likely that the Dunns Road bushfire was ignited by a lightning strike at the Ellerslie rangesagreed with the suggestion that the fire's spread had been "extreme and extraordinary" in its first two days.
"If they thought 19 kilometres was extreme, there was no way [the NSW Rural Fire Service] could prepare for 60 kilometres of fire travel in one day," he said.
Wagga crime scene unit Detective Sergeant Sean Clarke told the inquiry that the fire investigation used information from lightning strike GPS locations and eyewitness statements to determine the general location where the fire started.
Detective Clarke said he visited the location where the fire started and found a tree with "parallel scar marks" from extruded sap, indicating it had been "superheated" from the inside by lightning.
The inquest into Mr Harrison's death, as part of the wider bushfires inquiry, is due to formally open on Tuesday and as such the State Coroner, Magistrate Teresa O'Sullivan, has yet to make a finding on the cause.
Mr Harrison's family is due to make a statement to the inquest and Mr Purcell is due to appear as a witness.
Detective Alexander on Monday confirmed to the hearing that he obtained mobile phone records showing that Mr Harrison received emergency messages from the RFS, including a warning for Batlow residents to "leave now" on January 2 between 2.40pm and 3pm, to "seek shelter now" on January 3 and to "seek shelter as the fire arrives" on January 4.
Counsel Assisting the Coroner, Adam Casselden SC, asked Detective Alexander why Mr Harrison and Mr Purcell decided to stay at the property despite receiving the warning messages.
"To my knowledge, they remained obviously to protect property; Geoff Purcell is a member of the RFS. They stayed on the property also to protect the cattle that they have," Detective Alexander said.
"In previous years they have fought grass fires and bushfires that have come onto the property and they had been successful in doing that without any harm and they were of the belief they could do the same thing that year."
Mr Casselden SC asked Detective Alexander about his investigations into Mr Harrison's death.
"As a result of your investigations, was the direct cause of David Harrison's death the combined effects of methamphetamine use and hyperthermia?," Mr Casselden asked.
"Yes, that's right," he said.
NSW Health defines hyperthermia, also known as heatstroke, as a "life-threatening condition in which the body overheats when it can no longer maintain a healthy temperature".