If you’ve spent any time online or listening to news in the past months, you’ve no doubt heard about the bushfires burning through Australia or seen the charts depicting just how much of the continent has been burned.
The disastrous fires have been going on for months now, and nearly half of them are still not contained. According to an update from the New South Wales Rural Fire Service, 137 fires were still burning as of Thursday evening.
At 6pm there are 137 fires burning, 66 are not contained. In the field are more than 3,300 firefighters. Conditions continue to be difficult this evening. An forecast gusty southerly change could cause erratic fire behaviour over many firegrounds. #nswfires #nswrfs pic.twitter.com/ziDuzB0EKe
— NSW RFS (@NSWRFS) January 10, 2020
In an attempt to combat the damage and save lives, more than 3,300 firefighters are out on the job fighting the blazes — including the largest group of American firefighters to fight fires abroad.
The most recent group of firefighters got a very warm welcome from the people at the Sydney International Airport when they came through the doors, and Shane Fitzsimmons, commissioner of the NSW Rural Fire Service, tweeted the video.
“US fire fighters arrived at Sydney Int Airport this week, on their way to assist with fire fighting in Victoria,” he wrote.
“Coming through, all gathered gave a spontaneous & lengthy round of applause, reflecting the gratitude & admiration we all have for their generosity.”
US fire fighters arrived at Sydney Int Airport this week, on their way to assist with fire fighting in Victoria.
Coming through, all gathered gave a spontaneous & lengthy round of applause, reflecting the gratitude & admiration we all have for their generosity. #NSWRFS @NSWRFS pic.twitter.com/5epg5y4qxX
— Shane Fitzsimmons (@RFSCommissioner) January 9, 2020
Autumn Snyder, the wife of assistant fire management officer Sean Snyder, told CNN it would be hard for the family to give up Sean for the month of service he’s signed on for, but that they are proud of him.
“We are a public service family and believe in doing all the good we can,” she said. “We are super proud of the work he is doing over there.”
“It’s so refreshing and gratifying to see them be welcomed and appreciated.”
Rob Rogers, deputy commissioner of the NSW Rural Fire Service, told Fox News, “They’ve been enormously welcome and they’ve fitted in really well with our teams here. They’ve been very popular.”
#USwithAUS Update – Fire resources are starting to work hand in hand to suppress #bushfires in #Australia. Additionally, fallers are working along roadways to reduce the amount of hazard trees to provide a safer area for #firefighters to work. #NSWfires #Australiafires pic.twitter.com/sH4pjMYhui
— National Interagency Fire Center (@NIFCfire) January 10, 2020
And Australia will continue to need all the help it can get. With the conditions as fire-conducive as they are, the fight is far from over — especially near the township of Burragate, where winds were predicted to reach up to 60 miles per hour.
“We’re preparing for the inevitable risk that those towns may come under threat and if they do, we’ll be there to help defend them through the night,” Nathan Barnden, a divisional commander with the Rural Fire Service, said, according to Fox News.
“We’ve been warned that we could be up there ‘til the morning. … There is a risk that we’ll be cut off and we’ll have to stay there throughout the time.”
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