He might have been regarded as "the baby of the family" but David Harrison couldn't have been a bigger part of their world.
The youngest of four Goulburn brothers died on Saturday evening while defending his friend, Geoff Purcell's property at Batlow.
The town was devastated by the Dunns Road fire that swept through the area after jumping the Snowy Mountains Highway that evening. It has burnt through more than 230,000 hectares.
Police said David, 47, died of a heart attack after going to a ute parked on the farm to get water. Mr Purcell went looking for him when he didn't return and found him unconcious in the vehicle.
His friend drove the ute a distance and sought help from police, who rendered first aid.
"Despite efforts by emergency services, the man died at the scene," police said in a statement.
Mr Harrison was formerly known as David Cramp. Like his brothers, he reverted to his mother's maiden name.
On Sunday, his brother, Peter, said David's death had left a major gap in the family.
"It leaves a massive hole," he said.
"There were always four of us and we were always tight. Now there are only three and there's a missing link in out lives."
David was six years younger than his nearest sibling. His big brothers, Michael, Peter and Warren took him under their wing, especially after their father left the family when David was only young.
"Mum (Jan) brought us four boys up on her own. She was secretary at Sts Peter and Paul's School for 30 years and she was well respected," Peter said.
"It wasn't easy on her own but she got us all involved in sport and we all went on to university.
"(As kids) we'd train Dave up to be the best sportsman he could be and he always loved his big brothers. We loved him and looked after him," Peter said.
All four brothers attended Saint Patrick's College. Unsurprisingly, they were each affectionately nicknamed 'Crampy.' There, David was an all-round sportsman, making the Catholic school's First XV rugby team and the First XI cricket side. He topped his year in the HSC in 1989 and excelled at four unit maths and physics.
David applied this skill to a Bachelor of Engineering degree at the University of NSW.
"He was a very smart guy," Peter said.
"He had big blue eyes, a big smile and all the girls loved him."
After tertiary studies he worked for TNT and then the railways, based in Goulburn, organising logistics for projects.
Over the past two years he was employed by a Canberra solar firm doing similar work. He commuted each day from the family home he lived in after his mother, Jan, died 15 years ago.
David kept in close contact with his school friend, Geoff Purcell, travelling there most holidays to spend time on his farm around Batlow. Peter was also good friends with Geoff's brother at school and the families were close.
"We'd often go down there to visit," he said.
"Dave had some time off over Christmas and it just happened to coincide with the fires."
In a group online chat on Saturday morning, his brothers urged him to get out, aware of the fire's escalating danger.
But he assured them he had an escape plan and wanted to stay.
"He wouldn't leave Geoff. He had a big heart and would do anything for anyone," Peter said.
"They (the Purcells) were his best mates and whenever they were in trouble, he was the first to put up his hand."
He suspected his brother was overcome by smoke, heat, stress and dehydration but said he did not have an underlying heart condition of which he was aware.
The family is awaiting the coroner's report.
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Peter said Mr Purcell was distraught at his friend's death.
Meantime, the family is grieving the loss of a loved brother and "favourite uncle" to his nine nieces and nephews.
"They loved him and so did we," Peter said.
"We had a big family gathering at Christmas, including our eldest brother who was over from Ireland. We feel at least blessed we were all together before his life ended."
Funeral details are yet to be finalised.
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