Aussie firefighters are California dreaming

A COFFS Coast man is leading a team of 10 NSW fire fighting specialists helping to fight the bushfires engulfing California.

Dorrigo ranger Tony Prior is leading the NSW contingent from the Rural Fire Service, State Forests, NSW Fire Brigades and the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS), helping to control the outbreak of fires that cause so much concern in the USA at this time of year.

Tony is one of 44 Australian and New Zealand firefighters who flew out to the US at the weekend.

"Australian firefighters are among the best in the world and our aviation specialists are always in high demand in situations like these," Tony told the Coffs Coast Advocate.

"We also learn a lot from these experiences and it is really good to be able to share our knowledge and skills helping others in their time need."
Mr Prior, along with two NPWS officers from Jindabyne and Bulga will be helicopter-base managers, co-ordinating chopper operations directly attacking the massive fires burning in steep country or directly threatening property.
All are highly experienced aircraft officers whose skills will be needed to co-ordinate base operations safely especially with the high number of helicopter movements and short 'turn-arounds' required when large fires are burning.

The firefighters first stop will be Boise, in the state of Idaho for a briefing, before being deployed to air bases in northern California.

The three NPWS officers are among 900 staff trained to fight fires on the ground or as part of incident management teams.

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