23 Aug 2015

NZ firefighters to help with US wildfires

6:14 pm on 23 August 2015

Fifteen New Zealand firefighters are heading to the United States today to help contain wildfires burning across the country's tinder-dry western states.

A Marlborough firefighter in the field in Canada.

A Marlborough firefighter deployed in Canada earlier this month. Photo: Supplied

More than 100 fires are raging over 400,000 hectares, and soldiers have been called in for the first time in nine years to help.

The New Zealand team members were drawn from rural fire authorities around the country, and will be joined by about 60 Australian firefighters.

National Rural Fire Officer Kevin O'Connor said the team would be deployed to either Washington, Montana, California or Oregon.

"It'll be in remote places and likely to be quite rugged, mountainous areas, it'll be challenging but our people are used to quite challenging conditions and they'll be able to handle it, it won't be new to them."

Mr O'Connor said the two week assignment could be extended by another two weeks depending on the success in containing the fires.

More than a dozen New Zealand firefighters returned from fighting forest fires in Alberta in Canada earlier this month.

Get the RNZ app

for ad-free news and current affairs