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'Fires do not have borders': Mexican firefighters arrive in California to help tackle blazes

As unprecedented wildfires continue to rage across California, firefighters from Mexico have arrived in the US state to provide assistance.

Crews from Mexico's National Forestry Commission (CONAFOR) arrived in San Bernardino on Wednesday and will assist the US Forest Service, saying “fires do not have borders”. Nearly 1,000 structures have been damaged or destroyed.

The blaze is the largest in California’s history, spanning more than 286,519 acres, some 150 miles north of Los Angeles. The fire department warned that they had only been able to contain about 32 per cent.

According to a National Interagency Fire Centre statement (NIFC), five crews totaling 100 firefighters and four agency representatives from Guadalajara, Mexico, were dispatched at the United States’ request.

“We continue to experience above-normal fire activity in California, Colorado, Idaho, Oregon and other states,” said Ken Schmid, from the Bureau of Land Management Fire Operations. “Thankfully, our Department of Defense and international partners are able to support us in this time of need, as wildfire activity will likely carry on for the foreseeable future, particularly in California.”

Speaking before the Mexican crews are deployed to Sequoia National Forest, where the Sequoia Complex Fire rages, CONAFOR’s director praised international cooperation seen over the past month.

"Fires do not have borders, fires do not have different languages and cultures,” said Eduardo Cruz, CONAFOR’s director. “In the end we all speak the same language when it comes to fighting fire".

Tony Scardina, deputy regional forester of the Pacific Southwest region of the US Forest Service, said of the Mexican crews that "We're proud to have them here", in a video posted to Twitter.  

“It’s really an honour to have them [CONAFOR] here, at our request through the NIFC,” said Mr Scardina.

“We’re able to have them through their partnership [to] come work with us and help us with the unprecedented fire citation,” he added. “We're proud to have them here, and thank you for coming to help us”.  

The United States has also requested assistance from Canada through the NIFC, which saw the country’s firefighters help tackle blazes in California and Oregon earlier this month.

According to the NIFC, resources from multiple Canadian provinces totaling 291 fire specialists were sent to the US last weekend, to help firefighting efforts.

There are at least 87 large wildfires burning across the West Coast, with 23 large fires burning in California, and 12 more in Oregon, in what has been a record-breaking fire season.

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