Three firefighters from around Rotorua are headed to California to help their American counterparts battle more than 15 deadly wildfires.

They are among 36 fire personnel from across New Zealand who are headed to combat the wildfires raging across the north and northwest of the United States.

At least eight people have been killed by the blazes and more than 1000 homes and businesses have been destroyed.

The state's biggest fire, named the Carr Fire, has ripped through 44,570 hectares of California in the past week.


Team members will head first to Boise, Idaho, to be inducted and then deployed to sites where they are needed most.

Phil Muldoon. Photo/File
Phil Muldoon. Photo/File

Lake Okareka Rural Fire Force chief fire officer Phil Muldoon is one of those who flew out today, alongside a firefighter from Whakatane, one from Hancocks Forest Management and another from Timberlands.

"It's a way to increase the skill set helping with the fire, but also to improve our own skill set.

"The fire is at a massive scale compared to what we get in [New Zealand]."

Muldoon said he couldn't help but wonder what he was going to face when he arrived in the United States.

"It's good to be a bit nervous."

Forest burns in the Carr Fire west of Redding, California. Photo/Gettys
Forest burns in the Carr Fire west of Redding, California. Photo/Gettys

He will be in the US for the next 42 days.

"The family are a little bit apprehensive about me going. This is one of the biggest jobs I have ever been to."


Fire and Emergency New Zealand national manager Rural Kevin O'Connor said the deployment provided an opportunity to assist a country that assisted us after the Christchurch earthquake.

"It also provides an invaluable development opportunity for our people."

The New Zealanders will operate as part of a joint Anzac deployment with fire and emergency personnel from across Australia.

"Since 2000 firefighters from New Zealand have participated in 20 overseas deployments - six to the United States, three to Canada and 11 to Australia. A total of 784 people have been involved.

"The most recent deployment was to Canada in August 2017 when we sent 80 people to British Colombia."

Crew members from Rotorua were also deployed to Canada.

The team to the US includes people from Fire and Emergency NZ, the New Zealand Defence Force, the Department of Conservation, forestry companies and contractors.

Team members will work in a range or roles including as safety officers, crew bosses, task force leaders and helicopter managers.

New Zealand has also received a formal request from Canada to assist with the growing number of wild fires in Ontario, British Columbia and the Yukon Territory.

Details of what assistance is required are being worked through and a New Zealand contingent is expected to head to Canada early next week.