When California was swept up in deadly fires, Australian firefighters crossed the ocean to lend a hand. Now, California firefighters are returning the favor by sending an elite crew of veteran firefighters to battle the bush fire crisis down under.
Hand-Picked and Battle-Tested
The California crew consists of 20 hand-picked, highly experienced veterans. Many of them fought the Station Fire and Saddle Ridge wildfires in California.
They’ll be joining more than 100 other firefighters from across the U.S. who are already there.
Australia’s bush fires have raged out of control since September. The fires have killed 23 people, wiped out hundreds of thousands of animals and destroyed more than 23,000 acres of land including koala and kangaroo habitats. They have also taken the lives of at least two firefighters.
It Goes Up Like a Torch
Jonathan Merager of the Angeles Forest Fire Service explained that Australia asked for firefighters with experience with large trees. Merager noted that eucalyptus trees are particularly deadly.
“The wind will carry embers at a significant distance,” he told CNN. “There’s a great amount of oils in the eucalyptus, and when it catches, it goes up like a torch.”
Proud of Our Heroes
The Angeles Forest Fire Service posted a picture of the crew getting ready for its 16-hour flight, saying, “We are proud of our heroes and wish them safe travels.”
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