Throughout the beginning of the month of January, U.S. firefighters were sent to help battle wildfires in Australia. According to an article by Colleen Shalby in the Los Ángeles Times, more than 100 U.S. firefighters, including dozens from California, have been traveling to Australia over the last month to help battle the country’s wildfires that have destroyed more than 12.5 million acres of vegetation.
On January 9, 2020, the latest batch of firefighters landed at the Sydney International Airport where they were welcomed with cheers and applause. A video was captured by Shane Fitzsimmons, a commissioner of the New South Wales Rural Fire Service. Fitzsimmons tweeted, “Coming through, all gathered gave a spontaneous and lengthy round of applause, reflecting the gratitude and admiration we all have for their generosity.”
Shalby continued on to say that the firefighters will assist the Victoria Rural Fire Service, which is the largest fire service in the Australian state of Victoria. “The National Interagency Fire Center — the Boise, Idaho based government agency that is coordinating the deployment of firefighters from the United States — was not immediately available to comment on which parts of the U.S. the group came from.”
A news reporter working for KTLA 5 News spoke to the wife of Sean Snyder, an assistant fire management officer for the US Forest Service in Talladega, Alabama, who volunteered for the assignment. She said that the assignment will last at least 30 days and that Snyder was excited to participate and help battle the wildfires, even though he knew it would be challenging for them. Snyder’s wife shared, “We are a public service family and believe in doing all the good we can. We are super proud of the work he and all the others are doing over there.”