9 Jan 2006

Australian helicopter kept on in New Caledonia for bushfire watch

11:22 am on 9 January 2006

New Caledonia is keeping an Australian charter helicopter until the end of the month in case it's needed for water bombing operations to fight further bushfires.

The newspaper, Les Nouvelles Caledoniennes, reported one of the two Australian Bell 214 aircraft was scheduled to have returned to Australia on Saturday.

A detachment of French civil defence officers is to remain in the territory until the 20th of January;

The bulk of the personnel left last week after bushfires were brought under control.

The French High Commission has created a new Fire Intervention Group, known as the GIF, consisting of professional and volunteer firefighters.

It's size and funding source have not been specified.