New Zealand Herald
US specialists join firefighters
MELBOURNE - A specialist United States firefighting "strike team" arrived in Australia yesterday to help battle-weary emergency services tackle huge bushfires that have been burning for three weeks.
The 21 firefighters arrived wearing a uniform of bright yellow shirts and green trousers, many still bearing marks of previous blazes. Several of them are "smoke jumpers", who parachute in to attack fires before land crews reach them.
But the Americans will not use their commando-style tactics in northeastern Victoria, where flames have consumed more than 12 homes and destroyed more than 420,000ha of land.
Instead the US firefighters, who are in Australia for 30 days, will go out in five-man crews with Australian emergency services.
"This is a group of the United States' best firefighters. We are grateful you called and we are happy to serve," said strike team leader Grant Beebe, who is the chief smoke jumper for the National Inter-Agency Fire Centre in Boise, Idaho.
"Some of the conditions are similar to what we have in California - bushy, flashy fuels, really great spotting potential - but we are also expecting to learn a lot," he said at Melbourne Airport.
More than 150 firefighters from Australia and New Zealand have gone to the US in the past two years to fight blazes in the Northern Rocky Mountains and Oregon.
In northeast Victoria yesterday, communities and firefighters were bracing for searing heat expected to reach 40C and high winds that could whip up the blazes, originally ignited by lightning strikes.
"Is it the calm before the storm, we ask ourselves?" said Country Fire Authority spokesman Clark Hansen as strong winds threatened to push flames over containment lines. More than 800 firefighters worked through Tuesday night cutting fire-breaks.
The blazes in the district have now joined, forming a 140km front stretching to the Snowy Mountains in NSW, and increasing the risk of further outbreaks in the region.
Department of Sustainability and Environment spokesman Mike Leonard said residents in areas south of the fire, including Omeo, Benambra, Cobungra and Swifts Creek, should remain on alert because the flames were expected to move in their direction.
All of Victoria was under a total fire ban until midnight last night.
Kia Kaha to the US Brothers and Sisters.
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Thread: US FF's in Australia
02-03-2003, 03:23 PM #1
US FF's in AustraliaPsychiatrists state 1 in 4 people has a mental illness.
Look at three of your friends, if they are ok, your it.
02-03-2003, 04:16 PM #2
I wish them well! I am currently out of position, so to speak...and I can not access my database for news and information. I'll have to rely on Firehouse.com...for updates on the wildfire situation.Proudly serving as the IACOJ Minister of Information & Propoganda!
Be Safe! Lookouts-Awareness-Communications-Escape Routes-Safety Zones
*Gathering Crust Since 1968*
On the web at www.section2wildfire.com
02-04-2003, 07:17 AM #3
- Join Date
- Aug 2001
The more help the merrier down here That fire has now grown to over 2 million acres and is still Going. Quite frankly a lot of us just wish it would go away, but that isn't likely to happen any time soon as the drought down here means that we can expect little or no rainfall for the next few months.Busy polishing the stacked tips on the deckgun of I.A.C.O.J. Engine#1
...and before you ask - YES I have done a Bloody SEARCH!
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