Fire crew enjoy return to home comforts

SASHA BORISSENKO
Last updated 12:58 13/03/2014

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A second Nelson fire crew has returned home after tackling the fierce wildfires in Australia.

Action Forest Management and Brightwater Voluntary Rural Fire Force members who were deployed to assist with fire fighting in the remote area of East Gippsland in eastern Victoria returned last week.

The crew of 24, five from Nelson, contributed their efforts to the Goonerah Deaddick Trail fires which at their peak burnt an area of 165,721 hectares..

Over two weeks, the crew helped to finish off control lines, burn out any unburnt margins between control lines and fire edges, monitor and extinguish remaining hotspots, treat hazardous trees, stabilize soil, and assess and rehabilitate roads, trails and tracks.

Action Forest Management manager and deputy principal rural fire officer for the Waimea Rural Fire Authority, Robin Thompson, said only part of their job was dealing with the big flames.

Most Australian summers were really bad and it was common practice for the New Zealand National Rural Fire Authority to offer their assistance.

"Luckily things have calmed down now, the weather has been kind to them," he said.

"It can get quite fierce. It can be all hectic but once died down it's a massive area that has to be gone through and mopped up."

In comparison Tasman and Nelson commercial forests only covered about 100,000 hectares, he said.

"We are talking about a huge area over there, Thompson said.

"They all found it to be most rewarding and commented on how appreciative the local fire fighters were of the New Zealand crews' assistance."

They all enjoyed their time in Australia and worked well together, he said.

But after working 12-hour days for two lots of seven-day shifts, the boys were happy to be home and sleeping in their soft beds.

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