Rotorua Daily Post health and business reporter

Local firefighters to help Aussie efforts

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Aussie firefighters attend to a fast moving grass fire in Melbourne, Victoria.
Aussie firefighters attend to a fast moving grass fire in Melbourne, Victoria.

A group of Rotorua rural firefighters has headed to Victoria to help fight the fires burning in the Australian state.

The group of five from Pumicelands Rural Fire Authority are part of a team of 22 firefighters who flew out to Australia yesterday.

They will join 23 other New Zealand firefighters already in Victoria.

Pumicelands Rural Fire Authority principal rural fire officer Paul Wright said the local team was made up of firefighters from the Rotorua Lakes team, Department of Conservation and the Whakatane District Council.

He said firefighters underwent extensive training regimes before they were able to go on overseas missions like this, and the district was fortunate to have a lot of good firefighters. Mr Wright said the firefighters would return with valuable experience.

"That experience we bring home. We are fortunate that we don't have fires of that scale here."

National rural fire officer Kevin O'Connor said crews already there were making good progress building containment lines around the fires, which were still burning on a 40km front around Victoria's southwest coast.

Mr O'Connor said the fire danger remained "very high" and both deployments were scheduled to last up to three weeks. There was a possibility that could be extended, depending on conditions.

The fires were sparked last month after lightning strikes.

- Rotorua Daily Post

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