The Australian bush fires may be thousands of kilometres away but they hit close to home for many in the Bay of Plenty.
Jamie Rhodes, the Eastern Bay Volunteer Fire Brigade's deputy controller, spent two weeks fighting the Australian fires last month.
The volunteer of 24 years has now put his hand up to return.
Rhodes was the strike team leader in charge of three New Zealand firefighting crews early last month.
The team included his Eastern Bay colleagues Colin Geety and Brenda Davis, Blair Wardlaw from the Waimana Volunteer Brigade, Tyler Fox from Rotorua and Mike Bathe from Taupō.
They were originally deployed to Port Macquarie before being reassigned to the Hunter Valley, near Laguna in New South Wales.
The days were huge, with breakfast at 6am and crews returning between 11.30pm and midnight.
"These crews had been working on these fires since September. They had been working 16 to 18 days in a row. We were just happy some of them could get some time off. Their own homes were threatened too and they were spending all their time saving others'."
He said teamwork was a "huge" part of the task.
"We had an awesome team. People who just get in and get the job done."
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Rhodes said the size, heat and fire behaviour was a lot different from those in New Zealand.
"They also use different fire fighting methods, mainly because they have limited water to use."
He said the locals' appreciation for their Kiwi helpers was "very humbling".
"Those brigades looked after us like you wouldn't believe. Some of them are going to be lifelong friends."
The biggest fire the crews fought was 160,000 hectares in size.
Just before they left, it connected with other fires nearby covering an area of more than 800,000ha at the time.
"It's got even worse since we left," Rhodes said.
He was thankful to his family and employer Fonterra Edgecumbe for allowing him to leave home and help.
"We volunteers can't do what we do without them."
He said there were certain training standards and experience firefighters needed to have to apply to help overseas.
"I have previous deployment experience to Victoria, Tasmania and the USA, so I was lucky enough to be selected."
Ray Fleming, who was born in Mount Maunganui and raised in Whakatāne, now lives on the Gold Coast and volunteers for the Queensland Rural Fire Service.
He has been a volunteer firefighter for 23 years and for the last two months has been helping fight fires in Queensland and northern New South Wales.
Fleming said his family was used to him going away on deployments nowadays, and his wife "usually renovates part of the house while I'm away, so I have no say in it."
"In the last four years, I have been to Bundaberg, Townsville, Rockhampton and Millmerran to name a few."
He said on the ground "you're always assessing your situation and safety exits before during and after fighting."
"No life is worth property or trees. Always have an escape plan."
As a civil servant working for the City of Gold Coast, he gets six days of leave to volunteer for emergency services each year.
"So financially it's okay for me, others probably do it a bit tough, but they still do it. Most volunteers do it for the camaraderie and commitment to community. Most, believe it or not, are in two minds about being paid."
In 2002 Fleming fought fires in Moruya and Batemans Bay, places that have been hit again by the blazes this summer.
He said the fires south of Queensland were different from those fought near his home.
"There are larger fuel loads and more eucalyptus trees that make for vicious fires. Those trees just dry out and explode. We're in the fifth year of a drought so most firefighters knew this was coming, they just didn't know when."
Later this week his crew is expected to be sent to Nowra in New South Wales, where most of the Queensland contingent is based at a naval facility.
Former Rotorua resident Shirley Mahon now lives in Brisbane and flew over an area with "destroyed forest plantations" near Bundaberg yesterday.
She said the damage to bush and towns across the country had been "devastating".
"We love to live in or near the bush, we do all we can to protect our properties, but these fires have been unbelievable."
She said the Rural Fire Service volunteers were "heroes".
"Some have been fighting these fires since September, with no recompense for loss of income and family time and now some have even lost their lives."
Mahon said donating to relief funds was one of the best ways for Kiwis to help, and those Kiwis who had already done what they could to help were "bloody marvellous".
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Branches of the Saddlery Warehouse across the country, including in Tauranga, are collecting donations to help injured and stranded animals (not just horses) affected by the fires.
New items such as bandages, halters, leads, animal beds, animal cages, brushes, feeding bottles, vet wrap, heat pads and towels are sought but they must be dropped off by 5pm on Friday.
Those who cannot donate in person can purchase and donate items online.
MetService meteorologist Melissa Oosterwijk said it was likely Bay of Plenty residents would see a haze on the horizon due to the smoke this week.
However, he said it was unlikely the region would see the same "oppressive" smoke cloud that Auckland had, as the wind direction would likely confine the smoke to the north.