Fresno man who moved to Australia shares wildfire experience

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- Light rain and cooler weather are helping fire crews as they struggle to contain the deadly bush fires burning across Australia.

The favorable conditions are forecast to last until Friday; then the weekend will see a return of a severe fire threat with high temperatures and gusty winds.

Former Fresno resident, Fernando Elizondo, moved to southeast Australia just last May.

"We live more in a rural county that is more elevated, like North Fork," Elizondo said. "But we do have friends who have family in east Gippsland, so they're in constant contact, making sure their parents are okay."

Elizondo works in downtown Melbourne, about two hours from some of the major fires. Shifting winds on Monday had them feeling some of the fires' impact.

"The city was blanketed in smoke," Elizondo said. "I think the air quality index was at 300 that day." "We sit on the 8th floor, and we couldn't see the football stadium, which is three blocks away.
The Australian Defense Force has called on a few thousand Army Reserve forces and others to help contain the flames, including 20 veteran California firefighters.

"It's what I love to do," says Jackie Ortega. "I love fighting fire, and I want to hopefully help the Australians out there, and hopefully we do our due diligence as a country and get out there and get to work.

Elizondo says the fires have brought back memories of the devastating wildfires in Northern California but on a larger scale. He says there's legitimate fear across the country that they could get much worse.

"It's just a wall of red and smoke, and people looking back at what they once had."

There are a number of funds which have been established to support those affected by the bush fires. These include:

Australian Red Cross Disaster Recovery and Relief

Salvation Army Disaster Appeal

St Vincent de Paul Society Bushfire Appeal (NSW)

NWS RFS Donations Page

Make an online donation to the NSW RFS Trust Fund or a participating brigade
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