As California burns, an expert flies in

As California burns, an expert flies in

11 July 2008

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Australia — A MT Wallace firefighter is heading to the United States to help battle massive wildfires in California.

Lee Gleeson is in a team of 44 Australian and New Zealand firefighters who will head overseas tomorrow to help relieve their US counterparts.

It is only the start of the US fire season but already multiple fires are burning across California, caused by lightening strikes and dry conditions.

Mr Gleeson, who works as a fire management officer with the Department of Sustainability and Environment, will be involved in managing air craft units.

He will be working two 14-day shifts during the 37 days he spends overseas.

“Everything over there is on a massive scale,” he said.

“At fires there may be a dozen or more aircraft.”

Mr Gleeson said firefighters in the US had a similar organisational structure to Australia and New Zealand which meant the countries could work together.

Environment Minister Gavin Jennings said Victoria had amassed a wealth of forest-fighting skills and expertise that were in high demand.

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