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NZDF Steps Up Firefighting Support For Canterbury

A Royal New Zealand Air Force C-130 Hercules left Base Auckland at Whenuapai late today to pick up fire retardant materials from Australia.
A Royal New Zealand Air Force C-130 Hercules left Base Auckland at Whenuapai late today to pick up fire retardant materials from Australia.

16 February 2017

The New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) will pick up about 15 tonnes of fire retardant materials from Australia and send another fire pod to help battle the fast-spreading blaze on Christchurch’s Port Hills.

Air Commodore Kevin McEvoy, the Acting Commander Joint Forces New Zealand, said an Air Force C-130 Hercules aircraft is on its way to Australia to pick up five pallets of firefighting foam and other fire-retardant materials.

A detachable fire pod is also being shipped from Wellington by ferry this evening, in addition to the four NZDF fire pods currently being used to fight the Christchurch fires. The pods can be transported on a variety of vehicles and use an ultra high-pressure hose with a pointed nozzle that can pierce the ground and douse burning roots.

An additional fire response team made up of four experienced firefighters has been sent to join the six Army firefighters currently working with Selwyn fire authorities.

“Our Defence Force is committed to supporting the local community in any way we can. We remain ready to provide additional assistance if required,” Air Commodore McEvoy said.

He said the United States Coast Guard heavy icebreaker USCGC Polar Star, currently visiting Lyttelton, is willing to assist the Government’s emergency response.

“The NZDF is currently liaising with the ship’s captain to discuss how we can integrate the ship’s personnel into our relief operations in Christchurch.” 

Since Monday, the NZDF has mobilised about 80 personnel, including about 20 firefighters, to help battle bush fires in Canterbury and Hawke’s Bay.

About 35 personnel from Burnham Military Camp were tasked last night to help Police check on residents in affected areas and evacuate those from Westmorland and Dyers Pass Road.

Eleven Defence Force firefighters who worked alongside rural firefighters in Hawke’s Bay returned to their home units this afternoon now that the Waimarama Road scrub fire has been declared under control.

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