NZ firefighters Canada-bound

  • 10/07/2015
New Zealand firefighters to help battle wildfires across Canada (File)
New Zealand firefighters to help battle wildfires across Canada (File)

New Zealand firefighters are suiting up to help battle raging wildfires across Canada.

The National Rural Fire Authority has confirmed 16 firefighters will fly out to Edmonton, Alberta on Tuesday.

A spokeswoman for the authority said most of the staff were "incident management level", meaning they would largely be assisting Canadian fire services with planning and logistics.

The crew, who will be drawn from the national incident management and rural fire response teams around the country, are expected to stay in Canada for about five weeks.

National Rural Fire Officer Kevin O'Connor said the team would provide front-line support to local firefighters.

"Our people have a range of skills in high demand during lengthy firefighting operations," he said.

About 800,000 hectares of forest are burning across Canada and Alaska, with a mass of smoke drifting as far as Colorado in the United States.

About 1400 Canadian soldiers have also been deployed to fight the blazes spreading across Alberta and Saskatchewan, where more than 13,000 people have been evacuated from their homes in some of the region's worst fires in years.

New Zealand previously lent support to Canadian authorities in August 2009.

NZN