Scale of fires astonishes helpers

00:34, Jan 25 2013
Ashton Oliver
JOYFUL MEETING: Waimea Rural Fire Authority firefighter Ashton Oliver and two of his children, Ruby, 4, and Harry, 6, are reunited at Nelson Airport, after his trip to fight fires in Tasmania.

Firefighters from the Nelson region have returned from Tasmania after helping Australian crews battle forest fires of a "mind-blowing" scale.

The Waimea Rural Fire Authority answered a call for help from Tasmanian fire agencies, and sent six men about two weeks ago.

Department of Conservation Motueka firefighters Bill Franklyn and Matt Page, and Nelmac firefighters Steve Wilkens, David Newton, Stu Saunders and Ashton Oliver returned to Nelson Airport last night.

Mr Newton, who led the fire crew while in Tasmania, said everyone did an excellent job. "The scale was just quite mind-blowing really, when you saw the destruction out towards the peninsula. It was a pretty sobering thing," he said.

Mr Newton said it was great to be able to help, and the Tasmanians they met were very grateful.

"It was very well organised. Equipment was supplied to us, and we had really good support," he said.

Another crew of five Nelson firefighters left Nelson yesterday afternoon to help fight a large scrub fire on Great Barrier Island.