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Govt sending 21 firefighters to battle 'devastating' Queensland fires

Author
Newstalk ZB, NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Tue, 12 Nov 2019, 6:25PM
The Caves Rural Fire Service firefighter Anthony Carter shared these photos of the blaze burning at Old Byfield Rd, Cobraball. (Photo / News.com.au)

Govt sending 21 firefighters to battle 'devastating' Queensland fires

Author
Newstalk ZB, NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Tue, 12 Nov 2019, 6:25PM

The New Zealand Government is sending 21 firefighters to Australia to help fight the more than 100 "devastating" fires that are ranging in Queensland and other parts of the country.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said she had been in contact with Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison today, who said he was very grateful for the additional support.

"We have been exchanging a number of messages over what are devastating fires."

As of yesterday morning, there were 100 active bushfire-related incidents across Queensland and New South Wales, according to Internal Affairs Minister Tracey Martin.

"The fires in Australia are in some of the toughest, most challenging conditions ever."

The New Zealand contingent of six three-person crews, consisting of two taskforce leaders and one liaison officer, will begin operations on Wednesday.

The 21 firefighters are in addition to the six New Zealand personnel currently assisting in New South Wales.

Martin said the request to provide this assistance is recognition of the high regard in which our Fire and Emergency personnel are held internationally.

Ardern told reporters this afternoon the firefighters will help with the rotation of the long shifts that firefighters are currently working.

"Obviously there will be fatigue for those firefighters who are on the ground and we're looking to have those New Zealand firefighters help relieve that."

The Government will continue to monitor the situation closely, and Fire and Emergency remain in contact with Australian fire authorities about their needs, Martin said.

The situation in Australia, she said, is extremely dynamic and numbers deployed are likely to change at short notice.

Speaking in the House today, Martin said New Zealanders will remember the challenges faced during the Tasman wildfires earlier this year. During that event, Fire and Emergency New Zealand responded quickly and capably.

The deployment is part of the reciprocal arrangements we have with Australia, along with the US and Canada. We assist them when they need our help and they are available to assist us if we need their support.

In the past 12 months, 140 New Zealand firefighters have gone to help in Australia.

Yesterday, Ardern told her post-Cabinet press conference that New Zealand was really and willing to send more firefighters to Australia.

 

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