Montana firefighters sent to battle Australian wildfires

(KPAX) Nine Montana wildfire personnel are among 44 from around the United States that departed on Dec. 30 to help fight the massive Australian wildfires.

Those who deployed represent the U.S. Forest Service, the Bureau of Land Management, and U.S. Fish and Wildlife. Another 20 from around the country were deployed on Saturday, and 59 more are set to go within the next 24 hours.

National Interagency Fire Center spokeswoman Carrie Bilbao said the Montanans’ firefighting skills match up well with what they need.

“We have an arrangement or agreement with Australia for exchanging firefighters when needed,” she said. “They have experienced firefighters for brush or bush fires, and we have wildland fires. A lot of our qualifications can integrate pretty easily with their firefighting techniques.”

The people were sent based on requests from the Australian Fire and Emergency Service Authorities Council.

Since Dec. 5, the U.S. has deployed nearly 94 Forest Service and Department of Interior wildland firefighters to Australia, which has been ravaged by intense wildfire activity over the last several weeks.