Two years ago, as wildfires rampaged throughout Southern California, over one hundred firefighters from New Zealand and Australia rushed to the US and helped their fellow firefighters combat the raging inferno. The National Park Service newsletters said that the Kiwis and the Aussies helped fill a critical need during the apex of that perilous fire season in the areas of heavy equipment moving, operating helicopters, protecting homes and other buildings, and in fire hazard management. Today the United States is paying back that debt that flying over one hundred US firefighters to respond to Australia’s current wildfire epidemic. Several dozens more firefighters from local fire departments in California and other western states will also deploy later this week to help out Down Under.
Australia is currently facing the worst wildfire crisis since colonial times. Grazing pasture for sheep, one of the mainstays of the Australian economy, has been devastated to the extent that several livestock experts have urged the Australian government to expand their experimental programs for raising kangaroos and ostriches for meat, since those animals can live off of desert browsing while sheep need green pasturage for at least half the year.
The American firefighters will stay in Australia for at least two weeks — and may stay longer if needed, according to the National Interagency Fire Center out of Boise