A Pasadena firefighter was joined by firefighters from Oregon at a local fire station as they prepared to fly out Saturday night to assist Australia with the unprecedented wildfires on that continent.
Firefighter/Paramedic Justin Hester was to depart to Australia through Reach Out World Wide (ROWW.org) from LAX, spokeswoman Lisa Derderian said.
“The overall mission is to serve a number of communities and wildlife sanctuaries that were impacted by the wildfires that are still ongoing,” Derderian said.
Pasadena Fire Chief Bertral Washington has supported fire personnel deploying on their own time to disaster-affected areas across the globe as part of ROWW, she said.
“Pasadena Fire Department members pride themselves on exemplary training and experience which can help support affected areas outside of our City,” Washington said. “Firefighter Hester will bring back valuable lessons learned that will enhance our preparedness to respond and recover locally from incidents which may be beyond our imagination.”
At Fire Station 33 on North Lake Avenue, Hester said the flight to Sydney was scheduled to take 14 hours.
Hester and the other U.S. firefighters he will join will be tasked their assignments shortly after their arrival. He said he expected to be sent to northern Australia because there were already so many resources fighting the fires in southern Australia.
“I don’t know how far out in the bush we’ll be,” Hester said, after commenting that the terrain is very similar to California.
Joshua Stout of ROWW.org said the firefighters will be helping both people and animals at wildlife sanctuaries.
Hester’s deployment is scheduled to last until January 20.