Hope came in the form of U.S. firefighters who arrived at Sydney International Airport last January 8 to help combat the wildfires ravaging Australia.
As the firefighters came with their gear in hand, they were met with applause and cheers from the crowds gathered in the arrival area. Shane Fitzsimmons, the commissioner of New South Wales Rural Fire Service, shared a video of the warm ‘heroes welcome’ on Twitter.
“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,” he wrote.
This is the first time since 2010 that the United States has deployed firefighters in Australia to help combat wildfires. In a statement made to Los Angeles Times, the National Interagency Fire Center declared that “roughly 100 firefighters” had been sent to Australia in December and early January. “50 to 60 more” are set to be deployed this week. These firefighters will be joining the 159 already in the frontlines battling the widespread inferno that has left 25 people dead and 2,000 homes destroyed.
With Australia needing all the help it can get, Canada has also sent its firefighters to the country for the first time. They were also greeted with cheers at the airport upon their arrival, according to a Damien Cave, a New York Times Australia correspondent who was there to witness it.
He took to Twitter to share an image of the moment.
“I happened to return to Sydney this morning right as 21 American and Canadian firefighters arrived to help with fires. Officials thanked them. Australians in the airport clapped and cheered,” he wrote.
The wildfires have already burned an area twice the size of the U.S state of Maryland. According to the Victoria State Government, 34 warnings were issued across Victoria for January 9. The blazes have already caused significant destruction in the area, prompting officials to declare Victoria’s first-ever state of emergency. Two areas in the state were advised to evacuate immediately. Authorities warned that “significant fire activity” was anticipated.
Experts estimate that the wildfires will leave more than 1 billion animals dead. The blazes will cause the destruction of 30% of the koalas’ key habitat in New South Wales and potentially one-third of the animals’ population in the state.
Watch the video below to witness the heroes welcome experienced by the American firefighters upon their arrival at the airport.
In the thick of any disaster, financial assistance is always what is most needed. You may consider donating to the following organizations to help the noble firefighters in Australia.