“Our thoughts are with Mat’s colleagues and family, including his wife and children – Jude, his wife, and Ruben and Kate, his children.”
Ms Neville said Mr Kavanagh was a dedicated and respected member of Forest Fires Management Victoria, where he had worked for 10 years.
“He’s been remembered for his friendly and welcoming nature, his passion for the environment and nature, and his love of fly-fishing,” she said.
Forest Fire Management Victoria’s chief fire officer Chris Hardman said Mr Kavanagh was originally from Melbourne, but had moved to Alexandra where he worked in the natural environment programs area.
“He was a Melbourne boy and had a great love of the great outdoors and was a keen fisherman,” Mr Hardman said.
“He’s such a well-loved guy.”
Before the crash, Mr Kavanagh had put out seven unattended campfires.
“He was doing critically important work stopping new fires,” Mr Hardman said.
Victoria Police’s major collision unit are investigating the head-on crash, which occurred in Thornton, near Mansfield, about 1.45pm last Friday.
Mr Kavanagh was a passenger in one of the vehicles.
The driver of the ute was taken to hospital in a serious condition, while the driver of a car was critically injured.
Mr Kavanagh’s death comes after Buchan man Mick Roberts, 67, and Maramingo Creek man Fred Becker were also killed while battling bushfires.
Noel Towell is State Political Editor for The Age
Tammy Mills is a Crime Reporter for The Age.