A volunteer NSW firefighter who was critically burnt when engulfed in flames was "stoic" and more concerned about his colleague despite suffering serious burns, a witness says.
Neville Smith, who remains in hospital fighting for his life, had been battling an out-of-control fire at a property in Tenterfield on Friday when it surged up towards him and a colleague, a local councillor Bronwyn Petrie said.
"They were in what was considered a safe location and then it just came up with an incredible gust and wind change," said Ms Petrie, who was fighting a blaze nearby and drove Mr Smith to the local hospital.
"It just changed so quickly.
"The fire truck was lost, I couldn't even see it burning because of the smoke."
Despite suffering burns to his hands, arm, legs, back, face and airways, the 66-year-old's first concern was his colleague, who had been nearby when their truck was engulfed, Ms Petrie said.
"He was in a lot of pain but very stoic," she told AAP.
"Half his trousers were missing, his jacket had been alight ... his first words were 'Ring (colleague) Bill and make sure he's okay', rather than worrying about himself.
"Hopefully he'll make a really good recovery. It was just awful."
The 66-year-old was stabilised at Tenterfield Hospital before being flown to Brisbane, where he remains in a critical-but-stable condition.
"Sadly, this injury serves as a sobering reminder about how dangerous the conditions are, and the risks that our firefighters take to protect their communities," the NSW Rural Fire Service said in a statement on Saturday
Ms Petrie said that while has seen many bushfires over the years as a volunteer firefighter, this year's conditions have been horrific.
The town dam has less than six months' supply left due to the drought across NSW, and locals have not been able to water their lawns, leaving the town "tinder dry", she said.
"The farmers are already doing it very tough and this has just made it devastating," Ms Petrie said.
Australian Associated Press