A mission of Israeli firefighters departed from Israel to California on Saturday night to assist in managing a wave of wildfires in the country, the first such Israeli firefighting mission to the US in history.
The group will remain for approximately two weeks and included officers and firefighters from Israel’s Fire and Rescue Services, rescue and forest fire experts, and a Foreign Ministry representative.
California is dealing with massive blazes that have consumed more than one million acres (four million dunams) in one of the state’s worst fire seasons in recent history.
More than 15,000 firefighters are already combating the blazes.
The Foreign Ministry organized the departure of the mission and coordinated its operations with the American authorities, through the Israeli consulate in San Francisco.
The launch of this mission follows intensive communication between the Foreign Ministry and the US Embassy in Israel, as well as the Israeli consulate in San Francisco and the authorities in the United States, to identify the US’ needs in managing the wildfires and arrange the necessary approvals.
Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi stated that the relief mission “is representative of the close friendship between our nations and of the excellent relations our two countries share across a wide range of areas. I bless the mission’s members and wish them luck in their important undertaking.”
Minister of Internal Security Amir Ohana addressed the group members upon their departure and told them that they are going “to demonstrate to our ally and to the whole world, what the beautiful Israeli is – the one whose hand is outstretched for help and rescue.”
“Between the flames of fire and the smoke in California, you will stand out not only in the uniform that carries the Israeli flag, but also in the abilities you bring with you, in professionalism, operationalism and dedication,” he added.