SAN FRANCISCO—Ten Israeli firefighters arrived in San Francisco on Sunday, August 30 to help battle fires raging throughout the state of California. The firefighters came from across Israel and arrived with their own gear, including portable radios, food, and breathing apparatuses.
The team’s arrival at the San Francisco International Airport, just before 7 a.m. marked the first time Israeli firefighters have been deployed to fight fires in the United States.
According to The Jewish News of Northern California, Shlomi Kofman, Israel’s SF-based Consul General, arranged the team’s visit and met them at the airport. The firefighters flew with a representative of Israel’s Foreign Ministry, Itai Bardov.
The Israeli Foreign Ministry spearheaded and funded the operation, cooperating with Israel’s Ministry of Public Security and the U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem.
Itzik Oz, who is leading the group, told The Jewish News of Northern California, “I think most of the firefighters in Israel [volunteered]…Doesn’t matter if it’s a big forest or a small forest. We are ready to do everything. Whatever [California’s firefighters] need, we’ll do it.”
Upon arriving, the team was briefed at a fire station in San Francisco and headed towards Sacramento.
Sacramento’s Mayor Darrell Steinberg welcomed the team to the state on August 30. He wrote about the experience tweeting:
“Today we welcomed a delegation of firefighters from Israel who arrived yesterday. Tomorrow they will report to the CA Office of Emergency Services and be dispatched to fires around the state. As a Jewish mayor, I’m particularly proud and happy to see them come to our aid.”
The team will be assisting the Department of Forestry and Fire Protection in northern California for two weeks, before returning to Israel and quarantining for 14 days.
In the California Statewide Fire Summary for Monday, August 31, Cal Fire reported over 16,000 firefighters are continuing to battle 18 fires and lightning complexes across the state.
“Firefighters continue to make good progress with increased containment figures on all of the fires, and even full containment on two of the large wildfires. As progress is made, many of the evacuation orders have been lifted or downgraded. However, nearly 40,000 people remain evacuated from the current wildfires,” according to Cal Fire.