US Continuing To Support Australian Wildfire Efforts
Jan 3, 2020, 2:46 PM | Updated: 2:51 pm
(Photo by Darrian Traynor/Getty Images)
BOISE, Idaho – Additional personnel from the U.S. Department of the Interior and U.S. Forest Service will be sent to Australia to assist with ongoing wildfire suppression efforts, according to officials with the National Interagency Fire Center.
Forty-four USFS and DOI wildfire personnel departed for Australia on Dec. 30, 2019, while 21 personnel will be mobilized on Saturday to replace previous crews sent to Australia in early December.
“Our thoughts and prayers, with our deepest condolences, are with the Australia firefighters and public who have lost their lives and homes, said U.S. Forest Service Fire Director Shawna Legarza. “We are proud to provide personnel from the United States and will continue to support Australia with the resources needed during this unprecedented fire situation.”
A fifth group has been requested by the Australian Fire and Emergency Service Authorities Council and DOI and USFS officials said they are working to send those individuals to Australia as soon as possible.
“As the extreme fire danger continues across Australia, the Department of the Interior will continue to do all that we can to support requests for assistance,” said Department of the Interior’s Office of Wildland Fire Deputy Director Craig Leff. “Our focus remains on helping the people of Australia and keeping people safe in these unprecedented conditions.”
Officials said the U.S., Australia and New Zealand have been exchanging fire assistance for over 15 years.
In August 2018, 138 Australian and New Zealand wildfire personnel were sent to help fight fires in northern California and the northwest.
The last time the US had sent firefighters to Australia was in 2010.