American Firefighters Greeted With Applause As They Land In Australia

By Bill Galluccio

January 9, 2020

American firefighters greeted with applause in Sydney as they arrive to fight Australia's wildfires

WATCH: American firefighters greeted with applause in Sydney as they arrive to fight Australia's wildfires. https://nbcnews.to/36DYnz5 (Video by Shane Fitzsimmons, commissioner of New South Wales Rural Fire Service)

Posted by NBC News on Thursday, January 9, 2020

American firefighters received a warm welcome from Australians as they landed in Sydney Airport to help fight the out-of-control bushfires that are ravaging the country. They were greeted by applause and loud cheers as they walked off the plane and made their way through the airport.

There are roughly 300 American firefighters on the ground battling the blazes, and officials said that more are on the way.

"We are proud to provide personnel from the United States and will continue to support Australia with the resources needed during this unprecedented fire situation," said U.S. Forest Service Fire Director Shawna Legarza.

The wildfires in Australia have been burning since September and have torched more than 15.6 million acres of land. The fires have been exacerbated by a severe drought throughout the country. They have destroyed thousands of homes, killing at least 25 people and an estimated 500 million animals.

"Many of the affected animals are likely to have been killed directly by the fires, with others succumbing later due to the depletion of food and shelter resources and predation from introduced feral cats and red foxes," the University of Sydney ecologists said in a statement.

Firefighters received a brief respite after some much-needed rainfall earlier in the week. The relief was short-lived as the hot, dry weather was expected to continue. Officials are worried that high winds will spread the fires and cause them to merge into nightmarish "mega-fires."

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