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Aussie emergency crews head to US
A contingent of Australian and New Zealand emergency personnel will fly to the United States this weekend to assist with fighting more than 100 wildfires burning in the north west of the country.
*** Emergency Management Victoria Media Release***
It’s been an extremely hot, dry, and windy summer in the States, with large fires across 10 states having burnt more than seven million acres (2.9 million hectares) of land so far this year. Australia will assist with firefighting efforts in Washington, Montana, Oregon, Idaho and parts of California.
The 71-strong contingent will arrive in Boise, Idaho, for a briefing and then travel to key areas that have been affected including California, Oregon and Washington. They will fulfil specialist field-based and leadership roles as heavy machinery operators, task force leaders, divisional supervisors, airbase managers, safety officers and strike team leaders.
Emergency Management Commissioner Craig Lapsley said the deployment would work in collaboration with the local agencies to bring the wildfires under control as quickly as possible.
“The crews are experienced with large wildfires, having handled fires on similar terrain across Australia,” he said.
“This is the second international deployment of Australian firefighting crews this year, with more than 100 personnel returning just last week from the Canadian wildfires. International deployments allow us to share personnel, resources and aircraft, and support other countries in their time of need.
“The effort from Australian states and New Zealand to pull together the US deployment in such a short time is very impressive. I’d like to thank the crews deploying as they will be away from home for up to four weeks.”
The deployment includes personnel from Victoria (20), New South Wales (18), ACT (4), Queensland (2), Western Australia (9) South Australia (3) and New Zealand (15). A liaison officer and a support officer from Australia have already been deployed.
Residents in many western US states have been evacuated as wildfires continue to burn in the west, with several fires gaining thousands of acres daily.
Australia has an established relationship with the United States that allows for the exchange of personnel, knowledge, skills, equipment, technology and mutual support in the event of an emergency.
Emergency Management Victoria is coordinating the deployment on behalf of all Australian states and territories and New Zealand.