U.S. sends more than 100 firefighters to help Australia battle flames

A firefighter sprays fire retardant in Jerrawangala, in the Australian state of New South Wales, on Wednesday.(AFP/Getty Images)

By COLLEEN SHALBY, Los Angeles Times

For the first time since 2010, the federal government is sending U.S. firefighters — including some from California — to help combat Australia’s wildfires, which have burned about 12.35 million acres of land and killed at least 17 people.

According to the National Interagency Fire Center — the government agency that is coordinating the deployment of firefighters from the U.S. — roughly 100 firefighters have been been sent to Australia over the last four weeks, with 50 to 60 more planned to be dispatched Monday. At least sixteen of those firefighters have been sent from California, where fires scorched thousands of acres across the state throughout the fall.

Canada is also sending firefighters to Australia for the first time. Stephen Tulle, duty officer with the Canadian Interagency Forest Fire Center, told CBC that a group of about 36 is assisting.

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