Australia — New Zealand firefighters have their work cutout as they help to control bush fires in the Australian state of Victoria.
Forty-eight rural firefighters will remain in the state untiljust before Christmas and plans are underway for another deployment in January.
Ten major blazes continue to burn in the Alpine and Gippslandregions, as strengthening south-westerly winds threaten towns. Fire crews arehampered after a piece of technology used to tract the fires broke down.
New Zealand liaison officer in Australia Alan Thompson says morethan 270,000 hectares of bush has been burnt so far and his team is having towork at least 12 hour days. He expects it to take months for the situation toease, saying it is a case of planning for the worst and hoping for the best. MrThompson says despite the long hours, the New Zealand team is coping well and ismaking a significant contribution.
Bushfires are also burning in Tasmania. Around 20 houses havebeen lost at Scamander on the eastern coast.