Southern firefighters head to Oz

00:55, Feb 19 2013
Southland Times photo
Southern rural firefighters, from left, Trevor Huggins, crew leader Nelson Ede and Roger Mariu are part of a five man team being deployed to help fight fires burning in Victoria, Australia.

A second deployment of southern rural firefighters is heading to Australia to help battle bushfires still burning in Victoria.

Five additional rural firefighters from Invercargill, Naseby, Tapanui and Blackmount flew out of Invercargill Airport this morning for Melbourne.

Southern Rural Fire Authority Principal rural fire officer Mike Grant said the men would be part of a third wave of New Zealand reinforcements being sent to relieve firefighters on the front lines of the fires threatening homes in Victoria.

The latest team of volunteers, who were only notified a few days ago about their deployment, would work alongside kiwi firefighters already in Victoria, he said.

Another group of five southern rural volunteers left Invercargill last week for Victoria and have been fighting fires in the state's east.

Rural firefighter Nelson Ede, of Naseby, who would lead the southern men as part of the New Zealand Rural Fire Authority deployment said the team was ready to help.

''We've heard the terrain is pretty inhospitable and the fires are still burning,'' he said at the airport before boarding his plane.

The volunteers are expected to land in Melbourne later today where they will be briefed and receive last minute instructions before gearing up for two seven-day shifts on the front line.  

Victorian firefighters with help from the kiwis have been battling blazes in the state's west and east as dry and hot conditions make a tough job even more difficult.

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