NZ firefighters heading to help battle Victoria bushfires

By Patrice Dougan

Rural firefighters are flying to Australia tomorrow to help battle the Victoria bushfires. File photo / NZ Herald
Rural firefighters are flying to Australia tomorrow to help battle the Victoria bushfires. File photo / NZ Herald

A team of New Zealand rural firefighters will be flown to Australia tomorrow to help battle continuing bushfires in Victoria.

A second team will be sent out on Monday as a backup, the National Rural Fire Authority said today.

It follows a request from the Victoria Fire Services Commissioner for help from Kiwi firefighters with knowledge of tackling blazes in remote areas.

The New Zealand teams will be sent to the rural national park area of Gippsland.

"Victoria is going through one of its longest and most intense heat waves. There are fires burning across the state and there has been little respite from the extreme hot weather," National Rural Fire officer Murray Dudfield said.

"Many of New Zealand's rural firefighters are Department of Conservation staff or forestry workers.

They are experienced in fighting fires in difficult and remote areas. Many also have previous experience fighting bushfires in Australia and the United States."

"The Victorian Fire Services Commissioner has specifically requested fit people who can work in arduous conditions, and who are prepared to work long shifts and sleep at mobile base camps."

The first team of 22 is made up of people from the Auckland region, the central North Island and Southland, he said.

- APNZ

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