Australia and New Zealand lend U.S. firefighters a hand

Over 180 personnel arrived last weekend to help deal with massive wildfires across the American Northwest
wildfires firefighters A new season of wildfires is burning through California and the American Northwest. (© Warakorn Buaphuean | Dreamstime.com)


This past weekend, 188 firefighters finished a journey from Australia and New Zealand to the United States. Their mission? To help American firefighters already dealing with wildfires across the Northwest.

Wildfires are now burning in the states of Oregon, Idaho, Washington, and northern California. If this sounds familiar, it's because last year was very similar.

In 2017, California set records no state wants to set—it had the largest and longest-burning wildfires in its history. From the northern wine country to areas surrounding Los Angeles, fires burned from late summer all the way into early winter. Then, in January, mudslides arrived in places where the land had been weakened by the flames.

New year, new fires

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Firefighters in the United States are looking for relief. (Getty Embed)

Sadly, 2018 is bringing more of the same. Two massive fires called the Mendocino Complex Fire have officially become the new largest wildfire in Californian history. In total, Mendocino has burned 1,148 square kilometres (443 square miles)—that's an area almost the entire size of Los Angeles.

This is just one of many fires found across the Northwest. Another, called the Carr Fire, is raging around the California city of Redding. Altogether, around 14,000 U.S. firefighters are working to beat back the flames in several states. It's tiring and dangerous work—but it's very important work, too.

That's where these Australians and New Zealanders come in.

Full of experience

On the surface, adding a little under 200 people to a force of 14,000 may not seem like a big jump. But the Aussies and Kiwis (Kiwis is the nickname for people from New Zealand!) know their stuff. Australia especially is one hot and dry country. Wildfires are a common hazard during their summers. But since it's winter down under right now, these experienced firefighters can afford to leave their posts and lend a hand halfway around the world.

After a day of training to get familiar with differences between the forests in America, the foreign firefighting forces was split across several of the worst wildfires. American firefighters hope these extra hands and minds can help turn the tide in this heated battle.


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