28 Dec 2005

Firefighters in New Caledonia battle to save homes near capital

8:31 am on 28 December 2005

Firefighters in New Caledonia are battling to save homes in a suburb of the capital Nouméa from being consumed by a growing bushfire.

At least 2,000 hectares of bush on the western flanks of Mont Dore have gone up in flames since the week began.

At one point helicopter after helicopter dumped water buckets over a two-kilometre-long wall of flame.

The mayor of the Nouméa suburb of Dumbea, Bernard Marant, explains what officials have been doing to contain the blaze:

"No homes have been seriously affected at the moment. It's mainly the bush and the primary forest that have been affected. We are trying with the rescue centre, to call up volunteer firefighters and take them up to the forest with small teams of light vehicles."

Mr Marant says security is the responsibility of the French state and he feels they haven't been helping enough in the operation.