VIDEO: US firefighters met with applause arriving at Australia airport to help battle wildfires

SYDNEY, Australia -- U.S. firefighters were met with spontaneous applause as they arrived at the Sydney International Airport in Australia this week to aid the country battling wildfires that have killed 25 people and destroyed 2,000 homes.

Video shared on social media by NSW Rural Fire Service Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons showed the latest group of firefighters arriving to battle the fires in Victoria. Bystanders welcomed the team with cheers and applause.

"Coming through, all gathered gave a spontaneous and lengthy round of applause, reflecting the gratitude and admiration we all have for their generosity," Fitzsimmons wrote on Twitter.



U.S. officials said Tuesday they're planning to send at least another 100 firefighters to Australia to join 159 already in the country.

The Australian Fire and Emergency Service Authorities Council requested the firefighters as part of a reciprocal deal that sent 138 Australians to fight U.S. wildfires in 2018. The U.S. has similar agreements with Canada, Mexico and New Zealand.

Officials are working to send the additional firefighters to Australia quickly so they can assume wildfire management and aviation management roles. The most recent contingent of firefighters dispatched to Australia included crews that fight fires on the ground, based in the U.S. Forest Service's Angeles National Forest in California.

The National Interagency Fire Center directs the U.S.'s wildland firefighting forces, which include thousands of firefighters who work for the Forest Service and the U.S. Department of the Interior and hundreds of aircraft. Their ranks can be stretched thin during the summer wildfire season, but officials can free them up during the winter to fight fires elsewhere.

It is summer in Australia, where the wildfires have been raging since September, fueled by drought and the country's hottest and driest year on record. Australia's fires started months earlier than normal.

The U.S., Australia and New Zealand have been exchanging firefighters for more than 15 years. The last time the U.S. sent firefighters to Australia was in 2010.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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