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Northwest firefighters head to Australia

Fri., Feb. 13, 2009, midnight

PORTLAND – About 25 firefighters from the Pacific Northwest will leave for Australia to help fight wildfires.

The Northwest Interagency Coordination Center said the firefighters leaving today are from the U.S. Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, Bureau of Indian Affairs and the National Park Service.

They are among 63 being sent nationwide under an international mutual-aid agreement and include smoke jumpers, Hotshots, fire management personnel, a meteorologist and burned area recovery specialists.

They will fight fires in the state of Victoria for up to 35 days. Australians, among others, have assisted with U.S. wildfires.

So far, the fires have killed 181 people, burned more than 1 million acres and destroyed or damaged more than 1,000 homes.

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