Firefighters From Half A World Away Summoned To Help Put out America’s Wildfires
Huge tracts of California, Washington and Oregon are burning, with no end in sight. That is the grim reality facing firefighters battling blazes in the west with every weapon in their arsenals. With no “season ending event” in the weather forecast, help has been summoned from around the globe.
Since 2000, Australia and New Zealand have been a part of a cooperative that will send 71 of its firefighters, some of the best and most experienced in the world, to help battle fires in the west. The United States and Canada have a reciprocal agreement in force that sends equipment and personnel across the northern border in both directions during times of trouble. Canada is currently in a similar situation with wildfires.
Previously, Addicting Info reported that Canada was lending the U.S. CL-415 Waterbomber planes due to GOP budget cuts. While we were unable to verify that story, we most certainly can verify that a strong international contingent that also includes our Mexican neighbors have risen to the occasion and are either currently on-site or en route to help put out the nearly 100 fires raging across the west.
Canadian CL-415 Waterbombers are being used in the fight. Los Angeles County leases two from a private firm in Quebec. The bombers are capable of scooping water from nearby bodies of water and dumping it on flames as it passes. Here’s a short video showing one in action in Newfoundland in 2012:
Even with international support, planes dropping millions of gallons of water and more than $150 million a week being spent to fight the wildfires, the situation is dire. One small county fire chief in Washington, working with the local volunteer firefighters, had his story told by the Los Angeles Times:
First, he called surrounding fire agencies for help. They were already overwhelmed by other wildfires.
“Nobody came,” he said.
Next, he called the county.
“Nobody came,” said Anderson, who also works as a communications specialist for the sheriff’s office.
Then he called the Washington Department of Natural Resources.
“They had nobody to come help us,” he said.
Hopefully the firefighters arriving from Australia and New Zealand will be able to help with that situation, but just in case, Washington state fire officials are for the first time ever asking for volunteers to help out. They’re looking for anyone with firefighting or heavy equipment experience to step forward to help safeguard the homes and businesses threatened by the fires.
The fires are so sever at this point they can be seen from space. This tweet from astronaut Kjell Lindgren aboard the International Space Station tells a very disturbing story:
While GOP budget cuts may not have been a mitigating factor in our neighbors to the north sending assistance, they certainly do exist. Politico reports that the House GOP opposed President Obama’s desire to increase funding for firefighting above and beyond what is typically allocated. A cushion would be built in for cases exactly like what we’re seeing, where funds run dry and additional funds have to be borrowed or allocated from elsewhere.
Just another case of the GOP putting the needs of anything other than the American people first.
Reprinted with permission from Addicting Info