Utah Firefighters Joining Wildfire Efforts In Australia
Dec 26, 2019, 10:40 PM | Updated: Dec 27, 2019, 10:55 am
(Photo by David Gray/Getty Images)
SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – Firefighters from Utah and other western states are heading to Australia to help battle wildfires that have burned over 12 million acres, destroyed thousands of homes and killed at least nine people.
“It’s unreal to get your head around it how big those fires really are,” said Jason Porter, who is a Bureau of Land Management firefighter living in Duchesne, Utah.
The wildfires are so massive that the Australian government reached out to the United States for help.
Porter is one of the firefighters who will be going to Australia. He leaves Monday for a 30-day deployment.
“It sounds like we’re going to be staffing a strike team of engines and this is a group of just over 20 firefighters from several western states. There’s two of us from Utah,” he said.
Porter has been fighting fires for 20 years, but Australia is different.
“We’re obviously talking a different ecosystem down there, different fuel types,” he said. “When we get there initially, we’re going to spend two days just training on the factors that influence their fire behavior.”
Porter has worked with Australian firefighters before – several Australian firefighters were in the United States training and helping during some of the California wildfires.
Now, Porter can’t wait to return the favor.
“I’m excited to help in any way that I can. People are in a bad way down there,” said Porter.
Typical wildfire deployments in the U.S. last between 14 and 21 days. However, Porter leaves Monday for a full month.
That’s why these last few days will be spent doing all sorts of fun things with his family.
“We got a lot to do in the next three or four days. Yeah. But I feel ready,” he said.
Porter spent Thursday evening visiting Temple Square to see the Christmas lights.
“We’re going to spend as much time as we can,” Porter said.
However, the Porter family and their friends weren’t in any rush for the evening to end.
“Yeah, it weighs on you. You’re going to miss a lot with the kids,” said Porter.
The other BLM firefighter from Utah is with the Color Country District in the southern part of the state.
There is also a U.S. Forest Service employee from Utah currently in Australia.