Montana firefighters use expertise to help suppress flames in Australia

MISSOULA - Right now firefighters from the Treasure State are in Australia helping to put out the flames that are devastating the country.

Currently, there are three firefighters from the Bureau of Land Management, one firefighter from Fish and Wildlife Service, and thirteen from the U.S. Forest Service's Northern Region.

The firefighters that Montana has sent are working as mid to high level fire managers, and looking specifically at helicopter and aviation efforts, fire line management, planning, and finance. This is all part of an agreement between the U.S., Australia and New Zealand that if there is a need, there will be help.

"Our firefighters take a lot of pride in not only being able to collaborate with each other to help firefighting efforts in the U.S., but by also being able to be called upon by other countries to serve in the same capacity," Dan Hottle, U.S. Forest Service Northern Region public information officer, said.

Normally a fire assignment is about a two week commitment, but the U.S. Forest Service Northern Region is being told their firefighters should prepare to work for 30 days. Some firefighters from Montana have already been there for 35 days.

"The people that we sent over did spend their holiday season over there, and much like the military, when you go into a firefighting world, it's holidays, it's weekends, the fire knows no holidays," Hottle said.

Fortunately, some Montana firefighters that have been working tirelessly in Australia are expected to return home this weekend.

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