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Nine NZ firefighters head for Montana

Nine NZ firefighters head for Montana

Nine New Zealand firefighters are going to the United States tomorrow (Wednesday) to help battle wildfires.

National rural fire officer Murray Dudfield says the firefighters are all experienced in management and supervisory roles and are heading for Missoula, Montana.

“At this moment more than 30 uncontained wildfires are blazing across the state of Montana burning over 120,000 hectares. They have caused hundreds of millions of dollars worth of damage and cover vast areas. The largest fire has so far destroyed almost 10,000 hectares.”

He says the fires have been burning for two months and the New Zealanders are going to help weary US firefighters get some rest.

“They will help provide relief for the people who have been working on these fires for weeks, to allow them to go home and have a rest.”

The New Zealanders leave Auckland at about 6 pm on Wednesday and will first go to the National Interagency Fire Centre at Boise, Idaho for two days’ orientation, before deployment to incident management teams at Missoula. They will be away from New Zealand for up to 35 days.

They are going as part of a formal arrangement between New Zealand and the USA and follow Palmerston North firefighter John Rasmussen. John went to the US last week to assess the situation and identify areas where New Zealand could help manage the fires.

This is the third time New Zealanders have helped fight wildfires in the US. Nine went in 2002 and 11 in the year 2000.

The New Zealanders are:


John Sutton Department of Conservation - Murupara
Jim Herdman Department of Conservation – Blenhiem
Brad Lett Department of Conservation – Murapara
Bill Ellis New Zealand Fire Service – Auckland
Trevor Tidey Southland Rural Fire Authority – Winton
Robin Thompson Waimea Rural Fire Authority – Nelson
Chris Millson Waimea Rural Fire Authority – Nelson
Jock Darragh Wellington City Council
Rob Hands South Canterbury Rural Fire Authority

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