Lake Tahoe fire captain helping fight Australia's raging bushfires

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SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. (KTXL) — While Lake Tahoe is covered in snow, on the other side of the world Australia is being ravaged by wildfires. But help from California is already there and more could soon be on the way.

A photo shows U.S. Forest Service Fire Capt. David Soldavini, who is based out of Lake Tahoe, cuddling a baby kangaroo. He is one of 87 Forest Service members currently fighting the bushfires in Australia.

Carrie Thaler, the fire management officer for the U.S. Forest Service Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit, said the full-time firefighters are desperately needed.

“Down there the ratio of volunteer firefighters to actual, professional, paid firefighters is seven to one,” Thaler explained.

Thaler said that statistic would be the exact opposite of what would be seen locally.

While Soldavini is the only local firefighter in Australia at the moment, Thaler said 10 others from the Lake Tahoe Basin are on standby.

“Australia has asked for a fifth group and our answer is that we will send them ASAP,” Thaler told FOX40. “And for the last couple of rounds, it has been approximately three to four days for them actually to be in the air.”

Sending our firefighters to Australia and vice versa is nothing new. For the past 15 years, the U.S., Australia and New Zealand have been in partnership, each sending much-needed firefighters to the others’ nations.

U.S. firefighters first went to Australia back in 2010. Australian firefighters were in Northern California as wildfires raged through the state in 2018.

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