Australian woman thanks Utah firefighters for efforts

Local News

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (ABC4 News) – An Australian woman wants to thank Utah firefighters for their efforts in helping her country work to put out fires after she found an ABC4 News report showcasing a local firefighter saying goodbye to his family.

“Their parting and kissing goodbye at the airport, and you know, to come here to Australia, it’s wonderful,” said Australian resident Sue Gray.

Gray – who lives in Australia’s New South Wales – says she was touched to learn of Jason Porter’s sacrifice, and notes there are many others across the globe leaving their families to help stop Australia’s bushfires.

“Having people coming from Utah, and California, and places like that, it’s just wonderful. It really is,” Gray said.

Gray lives an hour south of New South Wales’ capital city, Sydney, and said while she has not had to evacuate, she has seen many in her country and community grow tired as they work around the clock to stop the flames in neighboring areas.

And learning of firefighters traveling to Australia to help those battling the blaze, she said she’s grateful.

As of Tuesday, reports suggest 15 million acres have burned, and three firefighters, 24 people, and nearly half a billion animals are feared to be dead in the fires.

Gray said while the fires are devastating many portions of the country, she’s seeing people come together.

“It makes you just realize that there are lots of positive things about globalization,” Gray said. “And once again, crisis brings out the best in people.”

Tuesday, firefighter Jason Porter told ABC4 News he’s in the state of Victoria – a neighboring state to New South Wales – and is set to begin back burn operations with his team this week before “the next wind and heat event arrives.”

“Up until today our work has actually been away from the fire line, scouting areas to successfully hold the fire, or assessing areas where it burned through communities,” said Porter.

Porter notes “some rain [has] really moderated the fire behavior as well, but not enough to put them out.”

Porter left to Australia on December 30. He is scheduled to return back to Utah at the end of January.

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