Fire crew sent to Victoria

02:00, Feb 14 2013

Six firefighters from Marlborough joined a New Zealand firefighting force heading to Australia today to battle bush fires.

Marlborough principal rural fire officer Richard McNamara said authorities in Victoria asked on Tuesday for help fighting huge fires in the mountains in the northern part of the province.

The group left Marlborough Airport about 10.30am and will be part of a 44-strong New Zealand crew in Australia.

It was short notice, but the crews were used to that from previous deployments and it was nice to be able to help out in Australia and get experience working in tricky conditions, Mr McNamara said.

Crew leader Chris Hayles had been on Australia deployments before and was one of the most experienced on-the-ground firefighters in Marlborough and was leading a good crew, he said.

While the fires were getting less attention than earlier in the year because they were away from the big cities, they were still serious and dangerous, he said.

"The fire where they're probably going, in the Mt Hotham area, at last count was about 12,000 hectares, nearly double the Wither Hills fires and in heavy eucalyptus forests."

The crew is expected to be away for almost three weeks.


The Marlborough Express