14 Feb 2009

Bushfire briefing for NZ contingent

7:37 am on 14 February 2009

New Zealand fire fighters will be briefed on bushfire conditions in Victoria on Saturday.

Some 51 national rural fire officers, five Defence Force fire fighters and four victim identification dog teams flew to Melbourne on Friday.

Operations manager Kevin Ihaka says they will attend briefings and prepare to begin work on Sunday or on Monday, depending on conditions.

The Victorian Country Fire Authority says the New Zealanders will join others from Canada at the Kinglake complex of fires.

The bushfires have claimed at least 181 lives, destroyed 1,834 houses and burned 413,000 hectares to date.

Six fires are still burning uncontrolled at: Kinglake, Yea-Murrindindi, Maroondah-Yarra, Bunyip, Churchill and Beechworth-Murmungee.

The weather in Victoria is expected to remain mild on Saturday, with a top temperature of 28C expected in Melbourne.