NZDF feeding the fires near Christchurch

The New Zealand Defence Force set up a field kitchen yesterday to support firefighters, police and other workers involved in the emergency response to the Christchurch fire.

CAPTION: NZ Army firefighter Lieutenant Oli Barnfather fights an underground hotspot on the Port Hills of Christchurch. NZDF photo.

Lieutenant Colonel Rob Loftus, who is overseeing the NZDF’s relief operations in Canterbury, said nine Army chefs would prepare three meals a day for at least 250 emergency workers from a field kitchen set up near Halswell Quarry.

“We have been supporting the Government’s emergency response and remain ready to provide additional logistic support if required,” Lieutenant Colonel Loftus said.

Shifts of 15 experienced Defence Force firefighters have been working with the National Rural Fire Authority since the scrub fire broke out on Christchurch’s Port Hills on Monday evening.

Shifts of 25 NZDF personnel have also been working alongside police to provide 24/7 support for the community, check on residents in affected areas and evacuate those whose homes are closest to the fire line, and enforce cordons and roadblocks.

Lieutenant Colonel Loftus said NZDF buses and vehicles have been used to support emergency service operations around Christchurch.

“There’s a whole raft of tasks that we are doing in support of the community in Canterbury.

“Our people are experienced in carrying out humanitarian-assistance and disaster-relief operations, as we demonstrated recently in Kaikoura and Fiji.”

A Defence Force liaison officer and two planners have been supporting the Emergency Operations Centre in Selwyn District Council since a state of emergency was declared on Wednesday afternoon.

Two NZDF liaison officers have also been assigned to support local authorities in Christchurch and to work at the National Crisis Management Centre in Wellington.

Since Monday, the NZDF has mobilised almost 200 personnel, including about 40 firefighters, to help battle bush fires in Canterbury and Hawke’s Bay.

An RNZAF C-130H Hercules also made a supplies dash ‘across the pond’ to Australia on Thursday.

And, former NZ SAS soldier Steve Askin was killed when the helicopter he was flying in the firefighting effort crashed, on Tuesday.

 

 

Fast facts: NZDF assistance to emergency
services in Christchurch and Hawke’s Bay

Port Hills, Christchurch

  • About 30 firefighters
  • About 150 soldiers, including nine chefs
  • 12 Royal New Zealand Air Force personnel
  • 5 fire pods
  • 1 C-130 Hercules strategic airlift aircraft

Hawke’s Bay:

  • 11 firefighters
  • 2 fire pods

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Brian Hartigan

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