11 Kiwi Fire Fighters injured in Aussie.

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Staff Sergeant
Jul 2, 2006
Kiwi Land
As of today 18 Dec our Brother Barrie Hunt has been declared to be in a stable conditon.

All bar three of the men have returned to the fire line.

They were caught by a massive flare up that resulted in a Fire Ball. These balls of fire race through the upper layer at incredible speed when they happen. You will not outrun it in a truck.

The men sought shelter in a gully and let it roll over the top of themselves.

Our thoughts and prayers go with you all and your families.

Kia Kaha Brothers.

NZPA. 17 December 2006.

Three New Zealand firefighters seriously injured on Saturday, and eight others less seriously hurt, as they helped fight wildfires in Australia have been named.

National Rural Fire Officer Murray Dudfield said six of the eleven firefighters were affected by burns and smoke inhalation and were hospitalised.

Those hospitalised with the most severe injuries are Barrie Hunt of Christchurch who has serious burns to his hands, face and airway, John Tupura of Rotorua with serious burns to his arms, hands and face and Nick McCabe of Nelson with serious burns to his hands and face.

Mr Dudfield said the three other firefighters admitted to hospital were Glenn Stitchburn who suffered smoke inhalation, Tim Allen, burns to his face and hands and Lawrence Rangiwai burns to his arms. The three men were all from Gisborne.

Five other firefighters were taken to hospital and treated for a range of less serious injuries and had since returned to crew accommodation.

They are Bruce Waddell of Nelson, Trevor Huggins of Invercargill, Wayne Lavery of Christchurch, James Britt-Foy of Nelson and Tony Kendrew of Gisborne.

Victorian fire authorities said the incident occurred in the Mount Terrible sector of the large fires currently affecting North-Eastern Victoria, Australia at 2.30pm yesterday.

It involved 40 of the 47 strong contingent of New Zealand firefighters.

While fighting the main fire north east of the town of Mansfield in north-east Victoria, the New Zealand crews noticed an ember-caused spot fire across the road from the main fire.

They attempted to restrict the spread of this fire by creating a trail around it with hand tools, Mr Dudfield said.

"While involved in this work, they became aware that the main fire had increased in intensity, so they took evasive action."


He said eleven of the firefighters decided they could not escape the fire and sought refuge as they had been trained to do.

Most of the remaining New Zealand firefighters were keen to return to the fire-fight as soon as possible.

He said those who were able were likely to be back on the fireline on Sunday.

Mr Dudfield said the situation the men were caught in was not unusual and had also happened in New Zealand on more than one occasion.

"It just shows what a dangerous situation these firefighters are in and the speed and power of these fires.

"Our thoughts are with the men and their families."

The fires have burned out more than 5500 sq km of bushland in Victoria -- an area more than twice the size of Luxembourg.

Another 22 homes have burned down in the island state of Tasmania since the bushfire emergency flared late last month.

More than 4000 firefighters in Victoria took advantage of cooler conditions on Saturday to clear bush, creating containment lines they hope will pen in the raging flames before the weather worsens towards the end of next week.

With one firefront stretching more than 250km, Victoria's Country Fire Authority (CFA) warned the emergency was not yet over.

"There is still active fire -- we shouldn't by any stretch of the imagination think that the fire is extinguished," CFA deputy chief officer Graham Fountain said.

The sole fatality so far is horse trainer Donald Dosser, 48, who died when he fell off a vehicle on Thursday and was run over by a trailer as he helped fight fires at Gippsland, in Victoria's southeast.

Police believe the fire he was battling, which has destroyed at least 15 homes, was deliberately lit and sent arson investigators to the area on Saturday to quiz locals.


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