Australian wildfires: Looking back 1 year later
While last year was one of the most chaotic years in recent memory, thousands of Australian and U.S. firefighters rang in 2020 with the world already on fire
One year ago, in January 2020, the world was not yet focused on a relatively new discovery of a novel coronavirus out of Wuhan, China. Instead, all eyes had been drawn to the historic Australian wildfires.
The fires began in September 2019, fueled by drought and the country’s hottest and driest year on record.
By December, the fires necessitated an international mutual aid call to the U.S. Firefighters answered the call.
Looking back: By the numbers
298: Between December 2019 and March 2020, nearly 300 firefighters from the U.S. Department of the Interior and the U.S. Forest Service traveled to Australia to assist with the country's bushfires, the largest ever coordinated deployment of U.S. firefighters abroad, according to a spokesperson from the National Interagency Fire Center (NIFC), and the first bushfire assistance request by the Australian government since 2010.
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.
“We are proud to provide personnel from the United States and will continue to support Australia with the resources needed during this unprecedented fire situation,” said U.S. Forest Service Fire Director Shawna Legarza.
3: On Jan. 23, 2020, three U.S. firefighters were killed in a plane crash during an aerial firefighting mission. The plane carrying Capt. Ian H. McBeth of Montana; First Officer Paul Clyde Hudson of Arizona; and Flight Engineer Rick A. DeMorgan Jr. of Florida crashed in the mountains near the Australian capital of Canberra.
3,500+: The number of homes lost between September 2019 and March 2020.
34: The number of people who lost their lives during the same time frame.
46 million: The number of acres that burned in the six-month span as of March 9, 2020.
3 billion: The number of animals killed or displaced by the wildfires.
Looking back: Messages of support from around the world
We wanted to say a big "thank you" to all the firefighters who have worked so hard over the last few months, and to the community for its support. And when we say big, we mean big - 70 feet tall in Times Square, New York. #nswrfs #nswfires #NewYorkCity pic.twitter.com/HT4vQEgkg4— NSW RFS (@NSWRFS) February 19, 2020
Today we remember Captain Ian McBeth, first officer Paul Clyde Hudson and flight engineer Rick A DeMorgan, the American firefighters who lost their lives on this day a year ago, when their C-130 Hercules air tanker crashed whilst battling the Australian bushfires. #neverforgotten pic.twitter.com/lBiZnnGpmX— Australia in the US 🇦🇺🇺🇸 (@AusintheUS) January 23, 2021
Wombat. #BlackSummerAnimals— N J Lee (@njleeart) April 9, 2020
In remembrance of the one billion animals lost in the #BlackSummer bushfires of 2019-20.
~#NJLeeArt #watercolour #watercolor #illustration #animals #wildlife #AustralianWildlife #wombat #Australia #Bushfires #animalart #animalartists pic.twitter.com/5NzLnbi63e
They're not just helping our firefighters!— AFAC (@AFACnews) January 23, 2020
US firefighters Tracy Milakovic (Colorado) & Koreena Haynes (Arizona) lent a hand to change this little joey's bandages during their #Victoria deployment.
Tracy & Koreena are in Australia via the AFAC National Resource Sharing Centre. pic.twitter.com/fSjnuxCChY
This is delightful. US firefighters in Australia to lend a hand with #AustraliaFires meeting some of the locals.— Siobhan Heanue (@siobhanheanue) January 10, 2020
Captain Dave Soldavini of the US Forest Service cuddles a joey 📷 from @USAembassyinOZ. pic.twitter.com/IGR2K9koj2
Last night the @SydOperaHouse sails shone bright in support of the communities affected by the bushfires in Australia and the firefighters defending them. We are incredibly grateful to those on the frontline working tirelessly to protect us all.— New South Wales (@NewSouthWales) January 12, 2020
📷 @_DanielTran_ pic.twitter.com/RwAATuz0k5
Read more of FireRescue1's coverage of the U.S. response to the 2020 Australian wildfires:
- The U.S. and Australia: Trading assistance battling massive wildfires
- Code 3 Podcast: The ultimate mutual aid: US firefighter in Australia
- US sends more than 100 firefighters to help Australia battle flames
- 8 things to know about the deployment of US firefighters to Australia
- Video: Australian firefighters overrun by blaze
- 6 firefighters seriously injured in fire truck crash in Australia
- Messages of thanks to Australia firefighters