Three Northlanders are helping to co-ordinate logistics at the devastating forest blaze near Nelson and a Whangārei-based firefighting crew that just got back home from an overseas deployment is on standby.
Civil Defence Northland general manager Graeme MacDonald, Shona Morgan and Claire Nyberg left Whangārei Airport yesterday morning and will be in Nelson for anywhere between four days and one week.
About 3000 people have been forced to leave their homes because of the danger posed by the 2300ha fire that has been burning for a week.
Civil Defence Northland spokesman Murray Soljak said the three Northlanders would work in varying roles at the Emergency Operations Centre.
Nyberg's skills are in co-ordinating welfare of people and animals in emergency events, MacDonald may be required as an alternate controller, while Morgan can work in welfare or in a planning and intelligence role.
However, exactly what they will do in Nelson is yet to be decided.
A six-member Forest Protection Services crew that got back to Whangārei last weekend have been asked by Fire and Emergency NZ to be on standby as the Nelson fires continue to rage.
Mike Sullivan was part of the crew, which also included two Canadian firefighters, on a 16-day deployment to Tasmania where bushfires have burned through 200,000ha including large swathes of a world heritage area.
Sullivan said the Whangārei firefighters were based in Geeveston, southwest of the state capital Hobart, and were charged with protecting tourism infrastructure such as the Tahuna Airwalk— a steel canopy walkway— in a forest area.
The Southwood Sawmill — a veneer plant — was another structure the Whangārei firefighters helped their Tasmania counterparts protect.
"The fires were in a reasonably steep forest area and were always running because of the changing weather conditions. The temperatures varied from 18C to 35C which was not as humid as Northland and there was no rain except our last day when about 20mm of rain fell," Sullivan said.
He said the Whangārei crew were involved in backburning as well as fighting the actual fires and worked more than 12 hours on some days. They had now been placed on standby to help with the Nelson fire.
Another firefighting team from Whangārei led by Forest Protection Services owner Kevin Ihaka flew to Tasmania on Friday and is expected to return in two weeks.