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US ship offers to help fire response

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 16/02/2017
The USCGC Polar Star at McMurdo Station, Antarctica in 2006 © Wikimedia commons The USCGC Polar Star at McMurdo Station, Antarctica in 2006

The US Antarctic research ship Polar Star, docked in Lyttelton, has offered personnel to help in the response to the raging Port Hills fire, parliament has been told.

"This offer has been formally accepted by the New Zealand government," said Justice Minister Amy Adams.

"Defence Force personnel are engaging with the Polar Star to determine the best employment of these additional personnel."

Ms Adams was briefing parliament on the government's response to the fire.

She gave an assurance it would provide whatever resources were needed.

"Civil Defence is working closely with a number of agencies to help support and coordinate the responses and ensure those on the ground receive the help they need," she said.

"Local police have a dedicated team of around 50 officers on the ground focused on evacuation, managing cordons, and providing reassurance to communities."

Ms Adams said government assistance included:

* 45 Department of Conservation staff

* Defence Force liaison officers manning two emergency operation centres

* 42 Defence Force staff assisting the police

* Defence Force logistics staff and equipment, ready to help evacuations

She said the Air Force was going to fly in an additional 21 police officers from Auckland to Christchurch on Monday to bolster police numbers.

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