28 Dec 2005

Firefighters in New Caledonia criticise French state over bushfire effort

4:43 pm on 28 December 2005

Firefighters in New Caledonia are criticising the French state for what they call its lack of support in the operation to contain a wildfire near the capital Noumea.

The newspaper Les Nouvelles Caledoniennes reports the territory's provincial governments have each supplied a helicopter to carry water buckets, to control the fire at Mont Dore.

The French High Commission has refused to allow an air force Puma helicopter to be used.

Firefighters are quoted as saying they need 800 people, when only a few dozen are actually on the ground.

At least 2,000 hectares have been burnt since the blaze began at the weekend.