More than 70 American firefighters traveled to Australia last month to help that country during its outbreak of bush fires that killed over 200 people and destroyed thousands of homes.
Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd today thanked the U.S. firefighters for their help, alongside U.S. Department of Agriculture secretary Tom Vilsack, in a ceremony in Washington, DC.
"We are thankful to have such a partnership with Australia and very proud that American firefighters were asked to assist across the globe in a time of need," said Vilsack.
Rudd thanked the US Government for its support in fighting the "Black Saturday" bush fires of February 2009, which destroyed 2029 homes and killed 210 people in the state of Victoria, Australia.
Rudd requested U.S. assistance from President Obama on February 9, 2009. The U.S. sent 73 firefighters to Victoria - 38 from USDA Forest Service and 35 from the U.S. Department of the Interior.
The Department of Defense provided aerial transport from Travis Air Force Base to Victoria for approximately 50 tons of fire retardant, the USDA said.