Firefighters Greeted With Cheers By Australians As They Arrive To Help Fight Fires

The Australian wildfires represent one of the biggest threats to the environment in human history. Spurred on by high temperatures and lack of rain, it is estimated that 31,000 square miles of the country’s once picturesque environment is on fire. The blaze has become destructive to man and animal alike. Currently, wildlife experts say that over a billion animals have died in the raging inferno. Koalas are the species hurt by far the worst in the fires.

In the New South Wales region of Australia, where most of the fire is centered, a third of the koala population has died and the species has lost about 30 percent of their habitat. Humans are also feeling the harm caused by the blaze, with 25 people dead and 2,000 homes destroyed.

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Thankfully, Australia is not facing down the blaze alone. Countries throughout the world are sending firefighters to assist Australia’s own wearied champions. Recently, the United States sent 150 firefighters to help their Australian comrades in the Queensland and New South Wales region of the country. There, firefighters are struggling against 132 fires, with only 77 currently contained. In a public statement, United States Forest Service Fire Director Shawna Legarza said that American firefighters regularly face the same type of conditions as their Australian counterparts. Legarza further adds that they are always happy to assist those in need.

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Upon landing in Australia, most American firefighters have been greeted as rock stars by the grateful citizens of the Land Down Under. Commissioner James Fitzsimmons of the New South Wales Rural Fire Service recently shared a video on the department’s Twitter page of one such rock star welcome. In the video, 48 American firefighters step off their plane in Sydney to be greeted by applause and cheers from those in the airport. Ever humble, many of the firefighters have expressions of surprise at their hero’s welcome. Commissioner Fitzsimmons says that this welcome is just a small sign of the admiration and gratitude his country feels for the generosity shown to them. The video has thus far been watched almost 9 million times on the platform.

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Millions of dollars in donations are also flooding Australia to help the stricken nation put out the blaze and take care of their many injured and displaced animals. The famed Australia Zoo has treated tens of thousands of animals hurt in the fire as the zoo’s owners, the Irwin family, use their celebrity status to encourage people to contribute to fighting the inferno.

What do you think of the greeting American firefighters received when they arrived in Australia? Have you contributed money to the cause?