SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (ABC4 News) – Two Utah firefighters are on their way to Australia to help battle wildfires that are destroying thousands of acres and displacing the public.
Jason Porter, a Bureau of Land Management firefighter, is one of the men going.
His family dropped him off at the Salt Lake City International Airport Monday, where they said their last goodbyes until their husband and father comes home at the end of January.
Porter has been fighting wildfires for the BLM and the U.S. National Forest Service for 20 years now. He said he has fought fires in Utah and in 19 states – and soon, Australia.
“I guess the emotions with that here in the states is that we get more and more of those types of fires and now we see our brothers and sisters down in Australia dealing with the same thing,” Porter said.
The veteran firefighter said he’s choosing to go because throughout the years of his career, he said Australian firefighters have battled blazes in America, and it’s his turn to pay back the favor.
“Yeah, we definitely want to return the favor and try to help them through this hard time,” Porter said.
Taking his personal protective gear is the only firefighting equipment Porter is taking with him. He said when he gets to Australia, he will spend a few days training with Australian fire fighting equipment before going to wildfire locations.
Porter will then work alongside Australian firefighters in an attempt to stop the raging flames.
And he said he couldn’t do what he’s doing without the support of his family.
“My wife’s an incredibly strong individual to be able to take care of everything at home with four rowdy kids while I’m away, so I really appreciate that,” Porter said.
And as for the other firefighter going to Australia, the BLM said he lives in Southern Utah and is flying out today, too.
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