Australia fires: Angeles National Forest crew joins fire fight as deadly blazes scorch 12 million acres

SYLMAR, Calif. (KABC) -- For the first time, firefighters from the Angeles National Forest are being sent overseas to help battle brushfires on the front lines.

Twenty volunteers geared up Monday afternoon for their trip to Melbourne, Australia.

The firefighters will receive a day of training before assisting crews who have been battling the blazes that have killed at least 25 people and scorched over 12 million acres nationwide.

RELATED: Here's how to help firefighters, victims, animals in Australia fires

All of the Angeles National Forest firefighters have five to 10 years experience, along with qualifications specifically requested by Australian officials.
Those headed out of the country said they were ready to help those in need in any way they can.

"You watch the news or you read these stories about these terrible things that are happening and you always wanna know how can I help or what can I do," firefighter Justine Gude said. "I'm in a unique position where I can actually do something and I actually can help, so who wouldn't jump at that opportunity. I'm super excited."

The crew will be on the ground in Australia for at least 30 to 35 days, officials say.

The fires, fueled by drought and the country's hottest and driest year on record, have been raging since September, months earlier than is typical for Australia's annual wildfire season.

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