NZDF firefighters sent to fight Aus bushfires

  • 02/02/2016
(Defence Force)
(Defence Force)

The Defence Force has sent five more firefighters to northwest Tasmania to help battle the state's raging bush fires.

The firefighters, four from the New Zealand Army and one from the Royal New Zealand Air Force, will join 38 others who've already been deployed, for three weeks in the remote bush.

Kevin McEvoy, Acting Commander Joint Forces New Zealand, said the firefighters were sent after a request from New Zealand's National Rural Fire Authority.

"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," he said.

New Zealand Liaison Officer Tim Mitchell, who is based in Hobart, said the firefighters worked in remote areas near the town of Zeehan on Tasmania's west coast on Sunday.

"They have since been shifted to Arthur River in Tasmania's 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.

Lightning strikes have sparked more than 71 fires across Tasmania since mid-January.

This means authorities have had to ask 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.