Australia, New Zealand firefighters to aid with US blazes

Australia and New Zealand are sending firefighters to help tens of thousands of US emergency personnel struggling to contain deadly blazes raging across the American West, authorities said Friday.

Washington: Australia and New Zealand are sending firefighters to help tens of thousands of US emergency personnel struggling to contain deadly blazes raging across the American West, authorities said Friday.

"The contingent from Australia and New Zealand is expected to arrive in Boise, Idaho" on Sunday, the National Interagency Fire Center said in a statement.

Some 71 firefighters and other personnel had been requested, although the final details were still being worked out, the center said.

The state of Idaho is one of the hardest-hit, with 17 large fires burning on Friday, as Washington, Oregon and California trailed close behind.

Large wildfires are currently blazing across 10 US states, with active fires burning some 1.3 million acres (526,000 hectares).

"Many residents in Washington, as well as other western states, remain evacuated as firefighters work to contain large fires across the West," the National Interagency Fire Center said.

As of Wednesday, there were nearly 30,000 US firefighters and support staff battling the blazes.

Canada and the US military have also sent crews to help with the effort, which Australia and New Zealand now join.

"Australia and New Zealand have been key partners with the US fire community for more than 50 years but were last mobilized in 2008 when severe fire activity was similar to this year," the center said.

The center said three firefighters were killed on Thursday. US media reported that they died in the state of Washington after their vehicle crashed and was overtaken by flames.

 

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