Firefighters get call-up for Tasmania

By Kyra Dawson

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Stu Lyall (left) and James Werahiko (centre) in the Emergency Operations Centre at Rotorua Lakes Council getting a briefing from Richard Horn.
Stu Lyall (left) and James Werahiko (centre) in the Emergency Operations Centre at Rotorua Lakes Council getting a briefing from Richard Horn.

Two Rotorua firefighters are on their way to Tasmania to help battle extensive bush fires burning in the state.

James Werahiko and Stu Lyall were given just 36 hours' notice before flying out at 9.30am today.

Rotorua Lakes Council rural fire zone manager Richard Horn said the pair were chosen because of their high level of experience - both have been firefighters for 18 years.

Nearly 80 fires are burning throughout Tasmania, most started by lightning strikes, and have been fuelled by drought conditions and strong winds.

There is a group of 43 New Zealand firefighters leaving for Tasmania today. They come from rural fire authorities in Rotorua, Whangarei, Auckland, Nelson and Invercargill. A Defence Force team and Department of Conservation team will also join the deployment - the 11th to Australia since 2001.

Mr Horn said the team will be firefighting and helping with containment plans for at least 20 days with the potential to stay longer.

"They are all happy that they have been selected to go, but also a little bit apprehensive," he said.

Mr Lyall said he was reasonably apprehensive and nervous.

"It's a big unknown to me. I haven't been to Australia before. "I have been deployed within New Zealand for other jobs but not to go overseas. "I'm also excited, it's a new adventure to participate in."

"My wife has been amazing and she didn't hesitate, she said if you want to go, go."

Mr Lyall has two daughters aged 12 and 13 and a son aged 11.

"My girls said they were excited for me, but they were also very worried.

"All of my kids are really keen to be part of the volunteer fire service when they get older."

- Rotorua Daily Post

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