USA – In the Intermountain Region, winter snow covers peaks and valleys. However, fire season is not over for a select 21 firefighters. The fire season has evolved into a year-long event and firefighters will spend the holiday season fighting fire in Australia.
This is the first time since 2010 that U.S. firefighters have been sent to Australia.
The Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, National Park Service, Bureau of Indian Affairs and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, along with the states of Alaska, Nevada, Montana, Colorado, Arizona, Idaho, Utah, California, Hawaii, and Virginia, sent 21 firefighters to assist Australia with massive brush fires.
The Forest Service alone has sent 11 personnel, including the Intermountain Region’s Fuel Program Specialist Linda Chappell.
Australia has declared a state of emergency because of a 400,000 hectare fire (988,421.5 acres) near Sydney. The Gospers Mountain fire, which burns in the north end of the Wollemi National Park, is expected to combine with the Green Wattle Creek blaze.
These fires, combined with north westerly 25 miles per hour winds and 113 degrees Fahrenheit temperatures, are part of what has been considered as one of the worst brush fire seasons on record.
Through sharing and exchanging knowledge, expertise, and experience, the U.S. Forest Service is helping to build capacity in Australia and to promote the sustainability and management of natural resources to improve lives. In 2018, fire resources in the states also experienced a season that was record breaking, with California claiming the deadliest and most destructive fire ever recorded.
In 2018, Australia provided assistance to the U.S. for wildfire suppression efforts in California and the Northwest. Personnel fill critical needs during these exchanges for fire line management, helicopter operations, and other vital roles.