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More U.S. firefighters heading to help Australia fight wildfires

In total, around 175 Americans from multiple federal agencies will be helping Australia tackle wildfires burning millions of acres.

In this aerial image made from video, fire burning in Birdwood, South Australia state, Wednesday, Dec. 25, 2019. South Australia state, which last week had dozens of homes destroyed after wildfires flared in catastrophic conditions, is bracing for a return of extreme temperatures, with Adelaide, the state capital, expected to reach 41 C (106 F) on Saturday.(Australian Broadcasting Corporation, Channel 7, Channel 9 via AP)
In this aerial image made from video, fire burning in Birdwood, South Australia state, Wednesday, Dec. 25, 2019. South Australia state, which last week had dozens of homes destroyed after wildfires flared in catastrophic conditions, is bracing for a return of extreme temperatures, with Adelaide, the state capital, expected to reach 41 C (106 F) on Saturday.(Australian Broadcasting Corporation, Channel 7, Channel 9 via AP)

AUSTRALIA – As wildfires continue to burn across millions of acres of land in Australia, dozens of U.S. firefighters are expected to deploy in the coming days to help bolster the defense against the massive flames.

According to KHOU, Firefighters from across the US have been helping since early December. On Saturday, a group of 20 will deploy and will be followed by another group of 80 on Monday, bringing the total to 175 American firefighters on the ground in Australia.

Canada and New Zealand are also part of a mutual aid system, helping Australia in its firefighting efforts.

The agency responsible for assembling and coordinating the American firefighting teams is the National Interagency Fire Center (NIFC) based in Boise, Idaho. It’s a system that spokesperson Kari Cobb explained benefits everyone.

“It allows us to share resources in times of need,” Cobb said. "So, for instance, we have these agreements with Australia, and Australia has a completely different fire season than we do. They flip flop their seasons. So it really works out for us that when we’re in fire season, we can utilize some of their resources if needed and we can also do the same for them.”

In 2018, Australia sent about 150 firefighters to help American firefighters. In December 2019, the U.S. sent three groups — totaling nearly 75 people — to help battle fires in Australia. detailed Cobb.

The next teams to deploy in the coming days will include more than 20 Californians, including firefighters from national agencies like the Bureau of Land Management, the National Park Service, and the U.S. Forest Service.


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