Twenty Angeles National Forest firefighters will return to Los Angeles on Wednesday after spending almost a month battling the raging wildfires in Australia, the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced Monday.
The firefighters were deployed on Jan. 6 to assist the Victoria Rural Fire Service, according to the USDA's Nathan Judy and Forest Service spokesman Andrew Mitchell.
"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 Robert Garcia, Angeles Fire Chief. "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.
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.