California fires: US authorities ask Australian firefighters to help battle deadly wildfires

A decision will be made today on the deployment of Australian firefighters to the United States to help battle bushfires across the north-west of the nation.

US firefighters have worked to put out 89 large fires, which have burned more than 3,760 square kilometres over the peak summer period.

The National Multi-Agency Coordination Group (MAC) in the US formally requested assistance over the weekend, seeking 188 specialist firefighters from Australia and New Zealand.

The firefighters would be deployed for up to 42 days in the California area.

Candidates from each state will be placed in a national pool, with the most suitable candidates chosen this afternoon ahead of their deployment to the US on Friday.

Forest bushfire experience important

South Australian Country Fire Service spokesman Brett Williamson said the most suitable firefighters to come forward in South Australia so far had experience fighting fires in areas with rough terrain and forests.

“We are finding it is more the state-based ones — in particular [those from] the South East and the Port Lincoln area … that are the ones who will probably have the beneficial skills that the United States [is] searching for,” Mr Williamson said.

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