Californians Among Some 150 Firefighters Sent to Battle Australia’s Massive, Deadly Wildfires

Firefighters create a back burn ahead of a fire front in the New South Wales town of Jerrawangala on Jan. 1, 2020. A major operation to reach thousands of people stranded in fire-ravaged seaside towns was underway after deadly bushfires ripped through popular tourist spots and rural areas, leaving at least eight people dead. (Credit: PETER PARKS/AFP via Getty Images)

Firefighters create a back burn ahead of a fire front in the New South Wales town of Jerrawangala on Jan. 1, 2020. A major operation to reach thousands of people stranded in fire-ravaged seaside towns was underway after deadly bushfires ripped through popular tourist spots and rural areas, leaving at least eight people dead. (Credit: PETER PARKS/AFP via Getty Images)

For the first time since 2010, the federal government is sending U.S. firefighters — including some from California — to help combat Australia’s wildfires, which have burned about 12.35 million acres of land and killed at least 17 people.

According to the National Interagency Fire Center — the government agency that is coordinating the deployment of firefighters from the U.S. — roughly 100 firefighters have been been sent to Australia over the last four weeks, with 50 to 60 more planned to be dispatched Monday. At least sixteen of those firefighters have been sent from California, where fires scorched thousands of acres across the state throughout the fall.

Canada is also sending firefighters to Australia for the first time. Stephen Tulle, duty officer with the Canadian Interagency Forest Fire Center, told CBC that a group of about 36 is assisting.

In November, the U.S. fire center sent a liaison to Australia to work with counterparts there on the U.S. resources needed to help battle the growing blazes. Working in coordination with the U.S. Bureau of Land Management, Forest Service, National Park Service, Bureau of Indian Affairs and Fish and Wildlife Service, the U.S. center issued a sign-up document for firefighters interested in being dispatched.

Read the full story on LATimes.com.

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