NZ firefighters join Vic bushfire battle

NZ firefighters join Vic bushfire battle

8 December 2006

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Australia — A team of firefighters from New Zealand willtravel to Benalla this morning, as bushfires continue to sweep through Gippslandand Victoria’s north-east.

More than 150,000 hectares of bushland have been burnt sofar.

Two homes at Edi Upper and the Buckland Valley and a pineplantation at King Valley have been destroyed.

Firefighters are bracing themselves for a tough weekend,with hot temperatures and strong northerly winds forecast.

Spokesman for the NZ firefighting team, Ian Millman, sayssome members of the team have already experienced a Victorian bushfire season.

“We’re quite fortunate this round that we have atleast one person in each crew that was back here in the Alpine fires from 2003,so that gives them an insight,” he said.

But the New Zealand firefighters have been told to expectconditions far worse than they have ever encountered.

They will be briefed this morning and sent to theJamieson fires in the north-east.

Fireman John Tupara helped out during the 2003 bushfiresand is expecting difficult conditions this time.

“The fuel types, the terrain, the different firebehaviour – as opposed to back in New Zealand, it was fairly different. So weneeded some of your guys to work with us, just to introduce us to that type oftopography,” he said.

“I can see the same is going to happen this time too,but hopefully we’re a little bit better prepared this time.”

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