The names of the three US firefighters who died when their air tanker crashed while battling bushfires in southern NSW have been revealed.
The three men - seconded to Australia from the US - died after the C130 water tanker smashed into the ground northeast of Cooma on Thursday.
Plane owner and operator Coulson Aviation on Friday confirmed captain Ian McBeth, first officer Paul Clyde Hudson and flight engineer Rick DeMorgan Jr lost their lives in the crash, the cause of which remains unclear.
Mr McBeth had three children and his love for his family was clear to anyone who spent time with him, Coulson said in a statement on Friday.
Mr Hudson spent 20 years serving in the United States Marine Corp, while Coulson said Mr DeMorgan's passion was flying and his two children.
The men's families are expected to arrive in Sydney over the weekend.
"This will be deeply felt by all. We honour the amazing crews who do incredible things in dangerous circumstances supported by world-class operations," Coulson Aviation said in a statement on Friday.
NSW Rural Fire Service Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons said the men, aged 42, 43 and 44, were dedicated to the "art" of aerial firefighting.
"It's a body blow for everyone in the firefighting fraternity, in the community of NSW and further afield," he told reporters in Sydney on Friday.
"It's a confronting and sobering reminder of the enormity of the risk and challenge associated with this fire season."
Mr Fitzsimmons said he had spoken to Canada-based company Coulson Aviation, with the owners due to fly into Sydney on Saturday.
Mr Fitzsimmons labelled the C130 aircraft a "work horse of the air" which could carry 15,000 litres of water and integrate with firefighters on the ground.
Alaska region fire management officer Chuck Russell, part of the US and Canadian contingent in NSW, said there was a "sombre" mood among the firefighters since the deaths of Mr McBeth, Mr Hudson and Mr DeMorgan.
"It doesn't matter whether you're a contractor, a Canadian, a New Zealander or an Australian, it hits hard when we lose one of our own," he told reporters.
"We know what we do is inherently dangerous."
Investigators from the Australian Transport Safety Bureau will travel to the Peak View crash site on Friday to start collecting evidence.
The bureau expects to complete preliminary findings within a month.
US ambassador Arthur Culvahouse said he was "deeply saddened" by the news.
"The brave Americans who died near Snowy Monaro died helping Australia in its time of need," Mr Culvahouse said in a statement.
Foreign Affairs Minister Marise Payne paid tribute to the US firefighters and said she had passed on Australia's condolences to Mr Culvahouse, while Prime Minister Scott Morrison had spoken with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.
The US firefighters and the three NSW firefighters who have died battling fires this season will be remembered in a state memorial service on February 23.
Australian Associated Press