NZ fire-fighters head to Victoria

Friday 15 Mar 2019

A contingent of 43 New Zealand firefighting personnel is heading to Victoria help combat bushfires that have been ravaging the state for two weeks. The team, made up of two taskforces of 21 firefighters plus a liaison officer, will fly out of Auckland and Wellington today.

Fire and Emergency New Zealand National Manager Rural Operations John Rasmussen said the deployment was in response to a request from the Country Fire Authority, Forest Fire Management Victoria (FFMVic) and Emergency Management Victoria.

"Our firefighters are really stepping up to the plate to help our neighbours, following three deployments to Tasmania to help with fires there. It’s been an incredibly busy summer in the Southern Hemisphere."

The arduous firefighters will be from Fire and Emergency New Zealand (FENZ), the Department of Conservation and forestry companies. Arduous firefighters have specialist skills working in steep, remote and rugged terrain.

"The team will be working in extremely tough conditions, with very hot and dry weather," Mr Rasmussen said. "The crews we’re sending are skilled at working amongst tall timber and using chainsaws."

Mr Rasmussen said the deployment illustrates the excellent relationship FENZ has with our Australian colleagues and the high regard our firefighters are held in internationally. "We’re proud to be able to help."

Dozens of fires started by lightning strikes have been burning since the end of February. They have destroyed more than 30 properties east of Melbourne - 29 in the Bunyip State Park blaze, two at Yinnar South and one at Walhalla. Nine fires are still active.

Up to date information on the fires can be found at http://emergency.vic.gov.au/respond/.

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