Israeli firefighters to help with California wildfires

Written by on August 28, 2020

The firefihgting delegation will be sent in light of the devastating fires killed at least seven people to date, and hundreds of thousands of people have been evacuated from their homes.

Israeli firefighters applaud medical staff battling coronavirus outside the Ichilov hospital in Tel Aviv on April 7, 2020. (photo credit: TOMER NEUBERG/FLASH90)

Israeli firefighters applaud medical staff battling coronavirus outside the Ichilov hospital in Tel Aviv on April 7, 2020.

(photo credit: TOMER NEUBERG/FLASH90)

A delegation of Israeli firefighters is being sent to California to aid the largest wildfires in the state’s history. 

This week California was deemed a “disaster area” after the devastating fires killed at least seven people to date, and caused hundreds of thousands of people to be evacuated from their homes. In light of this, operational preparations for the firefighters’ delegation began on Friday, and the group is expected to leave for the US on Sunday morning. 

The delegation includes 10 officers, firefighters and experts in firefighting and rescue operations, who will assist in transferring knowledge and professional experience to the local fire brigades while examining and learning the concept of operating the operational force in huge fires.

Responsible for initiating the operation is the Foreign Ministry, in cooperation with the National Security Council and the Public Security Ministry. The initiative began after the Foreign Ministry conducted intensive communication efforts with the US embassy in Israel, authorities in the US and the Israeli consulate in San Francisco that examined and identified US operational needs for dealing with the huge fires and subsequently worked to regulate the permits for its activities.

Prior to their departure, Public Security Amir Ohana and Fire and Rescue Commissioner Dedi Simchi will hold a departure ceremony for members of the delegation.

Since the dry-lightning storms began August 15 over 650 fires have torched more than 1.25 million acres (505,860 hectares) in California, an area larger than the Grand Canyon. This week California was deemed a “disaster area” after the devastating fires killed at least seven people to date, and over 1,400 homes and other structures have been destroyed, with losses possibly rising to over 3,000 structures.

In recent years, Israeli fire brigades have worked to assist other countries such as Brazil, Ethiopia that have faced huge fires in their territory.

Israeli firefighters have been praised for their operational and professional activities and have become a significant arm in Israel’s diplomatic toolbox.

Reuters contributed to this report. 

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