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Firefighters from Oregon and Washington head off to fight Australian wildfires

Four BLM firefighters from the region will be headed to help the country battle devastating bush fires that have destroyed entire towns.

Posted: Jan 6, 2020 3:45 PM
Updated: Jan 6, 2020 4:09 PM

PORTLAND, Ore. — Four more firefighters from the Pacific Northwest are headed to help fight massive wildfires in Australia, the federal Bureau of Land Management (BLM) announced on Monday.

This time the deployment includes firefighters from the BLM Vale, Prineville, and Burns Districts. They'll join 13 other firefighters from Oregon and Washington that are already on the ground in Australia.

"Fires that started to burn in August have continued uninterrupted with large areas of both New South Wales and Queensland burned, multiple property losses, and, sadly, fatalities," BLM said. "Fire conditions continue to challenge in New South Wales and Queensland, while new fires are causing concern further south in Victoria."

Fire conditions in Australia have been extreme due to an extended drought, hot temperatures, and relative humidity in the single digits, the agency continued.

The BLM firefighters aiding in Australia bring more than just extra muscle. According to the agency, they have expertise in air tactical support, wildland fire management, and fire crew leadership.

During the harsh wildfire season on the U.S. West Coast in August of 2018, 138 firefighters from Australia and New Zealand came to the area for nearly 30 days to help with fire suppression in Northern California and the Pacific Northwest.

"The Australian and New Zealand personnel filled critical needs during the peak of the western fire season for mid-level fireline management, heavy equipment, helicopter operations, and structure protection," BLM said.

The last time firefighters from the U.S. deployed to Australia was in 2010.

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