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Local fire captain part of fire suppression efforts in Australia

LTBMU Fire Captain Dave Soldavini, holds a baby kangaroo, called a "Joey," that was rescued from the devastating wildfires in Australia.
Courtesy of USDA Forest Service.

As historic wildfires continue to burn across parts of Australia, firefighters from different federal agencies have been called upon to help battle the blazes.

USDA Forest Service Fire Captain, Dave Soldavini, from the Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit, is currently in Australia and is working as part of an interagency group helping with fire suppression efforts.

Soldavini, according to the forest service, is part of the third group of fire resources the U.S. has deployed to Australia. The Forest Service and the U.S. Department of the Interior reportedly sent 44 personnel to Australia on Dec. 30. An additional 21 personnel were mobilized on Jan. 4, and will replace a previous group of American firefighters mobilized in early December. The forest service said on Tuesday that a total of 85 forest service personnel are in Australia.

After arriving in Brisbane, Soldavini had 24 hours to acclimate, according to the forest service, before participating in an all-day briefing that covered the current situation, expected fire behavior and operations standards and practices given by the Australian Rural Fire Service.

Soldavini will be deployed throughout the month of January, the forest service said, and may serve numerous roles including engine boss, task force leader, and division supervisor and operations section chief.

Federal agencies such as the forest service and Bureau of Land Management have already provided a few dozen people, according to a report by the Associated Press, which stated the last time U.S. firefighters worked in Australia was 2010. Australia and New Zealand have been sending firefighters to the U.S. for more than 15 years, most recently in August 2018, when 138 firefighters helped battle fires in Northern California and the Northwest.

“Our focus remains on helping the people of Australia and keeping people safe in these unprecedented conditions,” said Craig Leff, director of the Department of the Interior’s Office of Wildland Fire in an interview with the Associated Press.

Follow the LTBMU on Facebook and Twitter for the latest information and updates at https://www.facebook.com/LakeTahoeUSFS/ and https://twitter.com/LakeTahoeUSFS.

Justin Scacco is a reporter for the Sierra Sun. Contact him at jscacco@sierrasun.com or 530-550-2643.


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