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Tears at Australia fires funeral of hero pilot dad and son who died saving hundreds of lives in Kangaroo Island fires

A FATHER and son killed fighting a ferocious blaze in Australia’s bushfire crisis have been remembered as “larger than life” during an emotional funeral service.

Famed outback pilot Dick Lang, 78, and his son Clayton, 43, a renowned plastic surgeon, were killed helping others battle the wildfire that tore through Kangaroo Island in South Australia.

The father and son were trapped by flames on January 3 as they returned to their family property after fighting the blaze for two days.

Tragically, their vehicle was engulfed in flames.

Their bodies were discovered the next day after Kangaroo Island’s fires were described as “virtually unstoppable”, burning since December 20.

Hundreds gathered to pay tribute to the heroic pair at a funeral home in Adelaide's northeast on Friday, remembering the men as having “big hearts.”

In a tribute to Dick Lang's chosen profession, a flyover by two aircraft preceded the memorial service.

Eldest son Derek Lang described his father as a “force of nature” who had a deep love for Australia.

He said: “I'm glad that he was able to live his life, doing what he loved on his terms, for as long as he did.”

“My younger brother [Clayton] took a page out of that book and did the same.”

Second son Justin Lage said his father was a pioneer for much of his life.

“He was decisive, a man of action. He was educated, innovative, passionate and personable.”

“Desert Dick Lang always seemed larger than life.”

He went on to describe his father as an "inspiration" whose thirst for adventure allowed him and his three brothers to see much of the Australian outback, Africa and Kangaroo Island.

He said he was also an incredibly proud grandfather.

The emotional service heard Clayton, one of Adelaide's most-respected plastic surgeons, was the most like his father and they shared a "strong sense of right and wrong".

Lachlan Lang said his brother "Clarrie" had also enjoyed “taking life to the extreme” as evidenced by his love of fast cars and jumping out of planes.

He said: "He really did enjoy taking things to the extreme — you could say he died as he lived.”

“I'm sure that pedal was to the metal in their hasty retreat from the fires and that adrenaline was pumping.”

“But it was a race they tragically lost.”

“There are so many questions we'll never know the answers to, but perhaps we can take some small comfort in the knowledge that Clarrie definitely lived a full life in his 43 years.”

“He not only sucked the marrow out of life, he then gave a dog that bone and went back for seconds, and maybe some dessert too.”

The total area destroyed by the Kangaroo Island bushfires stands at more than 220,000 hectares, around half of the island.

Tens of thousands of livestock animals, mostly sheep have been killed, along with an estimated 30,000 koalas.


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