Australians Applaud U.S. Firefighters as they Arrive at Sydney Airport to Help Fight Wildfires
Flyers at an Australian airport broke out into spontaneous applause earlier this week at the sight of American firefighters who arrived to help fight the deadly bushfire crisis, which has claimed the lives of at least 27 people and more than a billion animals.
The heartwarming video, tweeted by New South Wales Rural Fire Service Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons on Thursday, showed travelers clapping and cheering as a team of U.S. firefighters walked through Sydney International Airport carrying gear and luggage.
“US firefighters arrived at Sydney Int Airport this week, on their way to assist with fire fighting in Victoria,” Fitzsimmons wrote. “Coming through, all gathered gave a spontaneous & lengthy round of applause, reflecting the gratitude & admiration we all have for their generosity.”
The video has received more than 7 million views on Twitter as of Friday morning.
The state of Victoria, located in the southeast region of the country, was recently placed on a heightened fire alert as rising temperatures were expected at the end of the week.
Since September, high temperatures and dry conditions have fueled the blazes, which have so far burned through more than 15.6 million acres, according to the BBC. Thousands of homes and buildings have been destroyed.
In the state of New South Wales, which shares a border with Victoria, 2,500 firefighters were deployed to battle blazes in that area alone. According to the New South Wales Rural Fire Service, as of midnight on Saturday, there are 147 fires in the state. Of those blazes, 67 are uncontained, with officials warning residents to be wary of “strong and gusty winds.”
According to the Associated Press, a team of 20 veteran firefighters based in California was sent to Australia on Monday to replace a group that arrived in December. The group includes helicopter crew members who have experience extinguishing fires before they expand, Angeles National Forest Fire Chief Robert Garcia told the outlet.
“Our focus remains on helping the people of Australia and keeping people safe in these unprecedented conditions,” Craig Leff, director for the Department of the Interior’s Office of Wildland Fire, added to the AP.
Australia recently sent their own teams of firefighters to California to help fight a series of blazes that erupted across the state in summer 2018.
Around 1.25 billion animals are estimated to have died due to the blazes, according to the World Wildlife Fund. Thousands more are believed to be injured and homeless.
The travel advisory warning was increased from “Level 1: Exercise normal precautions,” to “Level 2: Exercise increased caution.” There are four levels, with “Level 4: Do not travel” being the most severe.
“Exercise increased caution in Australia due to natural disaster/bushfires. Some areas have increased risk,” the State Department said, pointing out that the current fire season in the country “is one of the worst” in recorded history, and is expected to continue through March or April.