After months of battling wildfires that scorched thousands of homes and created mass evacuations in eastern Australia, the world’s largest fire service has thanked those who traveled to help fight the blazes with a message in the crossroad of the world.
The New South Wales Rural Fire Service said Wednesday it wanted to say a “big thank you” to all the firefighters who have “worked so hard over the last few months” in addition to the outpouring of support from the community.
“And when we say big, we mean big — 70 feet tall in Times Square, New York,” the fire service said.
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The ad space was donated by Silvercast Media, who owns the 4K HD resolution billboard in Times Square where the billboard was displayed.
“Imagine fighting a bush fire higher than this billboard,” the message reads before the video shows a forest being engulfed in flames.
“Thank you to the brave Australian and U.S. firefighters defending Australia,” the message continues. “And to the world for all your support.”
In all, Australia’s wildfires killed at least 33 people and destroyed more than 3,000 homes. The fires began causing widespread destruction toward the end of 2019, which was both the hottest and driest year in Australia’s recorded history, according to the Bureau of Meteorology.
A total of six firefighters were killed in New South Wales battling the blazes, including three American firefighters who died when their C-130 Hercules water tanker plane crashed in January.
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More than 200 firefighters from the U.S. were sent to Australia to fight bushfires there for the first time since 2010, according to the National Interagency Fire Center. Firefighters from Australia previously deployed to Northern California in 2018 to help with wildfires.
Once they arrived in Australia, U.S. crews were deployed throughout several locations across the country.
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Australia’s main firefighting agencies are funded by the government but rely on many trained volunteers, according to the BBC. This year, close to 90 percent of the firefighters battling the record number of blazes were volunteers.
Last week, NWS deputy commissioner Rob Rogers said all fires are contained, meaning that a perimeter has been established around the blazes to prevent additional spread. Heavy rains in the past month have helped extinguish major blazes and helped authorities contain others.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.