12 Jul 2015

NZ to send 16 firefighters to Canada

8:48 pm on 12 July 2015

New Zealand is sending 16 firefighters to Canada to help battle out-of-control forest fires.

The firefighters, from different parts of the country, will leave for Alberta on Tuesday.

New Zealand was last asked to help with Canadian wildfires in August 2009.

Two of the team that went that time are returning.

National Rural Fire Officer Kevin O'Connor said Canadian fires tended to burn for far longer periods than ones here, and he expected that to be the main challenge for the team.

"Our fires here whilst they can go on for a number of days, in Canada they can go on for a number of weeks, so they're often significantly bigger and significantly longer, in Alberta alone they have on an average each year they have about 1000 wildfires burning about 200,000 hectares a year."

He said the firefighters expected to stay in Canada for five weeks.