Australia — Fire crews from New South Wales, South Australia and Tasmania are being sent to Victoria to battle bushfires that have so far killed 36 people and devastated communities.
Bushfire emergency: At least 35 people have been killed in the Victorian blazes. (Reuters: Daniel Munoz)New South Wales Premier Nathan Rees says 250 firefighters, as well as specialist search and rescue teams, will travel to Victoria to assist with the firefighting efforts.
South Australia is sending 70 firefighters to the fire-ravaged state, while Tasmanian is contributing 40 firefighters.
One hundred firefighters and 10 tankers are leaving this evening from the ACT to help.
New South Wales Health Minister John Della Bosca says a special operations team of five New South Wales ambulance paramedics has also been deployed to Victoria.
“The New South Wales ambulance service has responded to a request from New South Wales fire service workers and volunteers currently deployed in Victoria,” he said.
“Our paramedics are expected to be deployed for 72 hours and will rendezvous today in Albury before heading to Victoria.”
Country Fire Service, Metropolitan Fire Service and specialist forest firefighters from South Australia are expected to fly out this afternoon.
The Ericson air crane will also be deployed to western Victoria today.
Tasmania’s contribution will be made up of personnel from the Tasmania Fire Service, Forestry Tasmania and Parks and Wildlife.
Victoria’s Department of Sustainability and Environment has requested help fighting fires in steep and heavily forested terrain in Melbourne’s water catchment, north and east of the city.
Specialist firefighters with chainsaw and bulldozer skills will fly to Victoria early on Monday, but no Tasmanian equipment will be sent at this stage.
The Tasmanian Fire Service’s Acting Chief, Mike Brown, says more assistance will be considered tomorrow and Tasmania’s own fire defence will not be compromised.
“We do have a long record, up to 10 years now, of sending our people, along with the staff from Forestry Tasmania and Parks and Wildlife Service, to other states, in fact, internationally to assist with firefighting operations. The capability for Tasmania remains,” he said.
Premier David Bartlett has offered condolences and any assistance Tasmania can provide.