27 Apr 2010

New Caledonia bushfire figures show dramatic rise

6:45 pm on 27 April 2010

Figures released by the French high commission in Noumea show that bushfires last summer destroyed an area ten times bigger than the year before.

In the period from October to mid-February, almost 11,000 hectares of forest burned down while in the preceding summer just over 1,000 hectares were destroyed.

The high commission says last summer the total number of fires exceeded 500 and affected all three provinces.

The scale of the fires was such that 172 helicopter missions had to be flown to help extinguish them.

90 percent of the fires are alleged to have been lit by humans.