SYDNEY, Australia (WJW) — American firefighters got a warm heroes welcome as they arrived in Sydney this week to help with the widespread bushfires.
As they came through the arrival gate, Australians gave a lengthy round of applause.
Shane Fitzsimmons, commissioner of the new South Wales Rural Fire Service, said the applause at the airport reflects the gratitude and admiration all Australians have for the Americans’ generosity and assistance.
In many ways, the American firefighters are returning the favor.
U.S. officials said Tuesday they’re planning to send at least another 100 firefighters to Australia to join 159 already in the country battling wildfires that have killed 25 people and destroyed 2,000 homes.
The National Interagency Fire Center in Boise, Idaho, said that 90 firefighters including on-the-ground hand crews left in recent days to fight fires that have scorched an area twice the size of the U.S. state of Maryland.
Another 100 American firefighters are expected to fly to Australia next week, said center spokeswoman Carrie Bilbao. It’s the largest ever deployment of U.S. firefighters abroad, she said.
Australia has been sending firefighters to the U.S. for more than 15 years.
The most recent example was in August 2018 when 138 arrived.
The last time U.S. firefighters worked in Australia was 2010.