New Zealand/ Tasmania– Five highly experienced New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) firefighters have been deployed to remote bush in northwest Tasmania to help battle the states raging bush fires over the next three weeks.
Air Commodore (AIRCDRE) Kevin McEvoy, Acting Commander Joint Forces New Zealand, said the firefighters – four from the New Zealand Army and one from the Royal New Zealand Air Force – were deployed in response to a request from New Zealands National Rural Fire Authority (NRFA). They form part of a 43-strong contingent from New Zealand which is helping Tasmanias fire crews fight the fast-moving blaze.
“We have sent the five-member firefighting crew to help Tasmanian fire authorities control the bushfires. They are working in arduous conditions in forest and rural environments,” AIRCDRE McEvoy said.
New Zealand Liaison Officer Tim Mitchell, who is based in Hobart, said the NZDF firefighters worked in remote areas near the town of Zeehan on Tasmanias west coast on Sunday.
“They have since been shifted to Arthur River in Tasmanias far northwest, where the wildfires are threatening local communities, and are working 11-12 hour shifts. The Kiwis were keen to help the community fight the fires and the Australians really appreciate that they have come to help,” Mr Mitchell said.
Dry lightning strikes from a number of storms since mid-January have sparked more than 71 fires across Tasmania and authorities have since turned to interstate and New Zealand agencies for help. The fires have so far scorched about 107,000 hectares, including 26,000 hectares of World Heritage-listed wilderness.