More New Zealand Firefighters Leave For Australia Bushfire Battle

More New Zealand Firefighters Leave For Australia Bushfire Battle

05 March 2009

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New Zealand — A new contingent of 57 New Zealand firefighters flied to Australia on Wednesday to help out in the bushfire battle. New Zealand Civil Defence Minister John Carter said the fires had now moved into the water catchments above Melbourne and firefighters would try to limit damage that could have a long term effect on Melbourne’s water supply. The firefighters will replace the initial New Zealand contingent of 53 firefighters sent to Victoria at the height of the bushfires which have claimed more than 200 lives.

Alan Thompson, an information officer for the national rural fire authority, said the fresh firefighters would be working in the Yarraville state forest, up to two hours drive from Melbourne.

The New Zealand crews would be required to walk into remote forests to fight fire without hoses — relying on hand tools and machinery to contain the flames.

Victorian officials asked New Zealand for continuing help to protect the catchments, because the firefighters have extensive experience in fighting fire in dense forest on rugged terrain.

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