Twenty Angeles National Forest firefighters returned to Los Angeles Wednesday after spending nearly a month battling the raging wildfires in Australia.
The firefighters were deployed on Jan. 6 to assist the Victoria Rural Fire Service, according to the U.S. Forest Service.
“All of us on the forest, and I know their families, are proud of the hard work our dedicated firefighters accomplished while in Australia,” said Angeles National Forest Fire Chief Robert Garcia. “We look forward to hearing and learning from their experiences while abroad.”
After the firefighters arrived at Los Angeles International Airport, they were applauded by onlookers.
“After a total of 32 hours flying, traveling over 15,000 miles and firefighting Australian brush fires for an estimated total of 7,200 hours over 30 days, your 20 AngelesNF firefighters are home!” the Angeles National Forest Service tweeted. “They are truly heroes indeed.”
The firefighters were reunited with their loved ones at Los Angeles Fire Department Station 5.
“It feels really good to be home,” firefighter Jackie Ortega told KTLA5. “This last month was really, really exciting. I have to say that the people of Australia are definitely nice folks.”
Fires across southern Australia have claimed at least 33 human lives and millions of animals since September, destroyed more than 3,000 homes and razed more than 26.2 million acres.