15 Feb 2009

NZ firefighters in Aust ready to work

6:52 am on 15 February 2009

New Zealand firefighters sent to Victoria to help against the bushfires there could start work as early as Sunday.

Fifty one national rural fire officers and five Defence Force firefighters flew to Melbourne on Friday night to provide relief for Australian emergency staff still battling out of control blazes.

Gareth Bowen says he helped fight the 2006 wildfires in Australia, but this is totally different.

He says the scale of the fires and loss of life has made the team more nervous than usual.

But he says the New Zealand contingent is highly trained and will cope.

The firefighters are being briefed on local conditions on Saturday and expect to begin work on Sunday or Monday.