WILKES-BARRE, LUZERNE COUNTY— Wildfires are raging through Australia right now, devastating the country’s landscape, wildlife, and people.
The United States has already sent dozens of firefighters to go battle the flames and is expected to send more in the coming weeks. As it turns out, one Luzerne County native is hoping to be the next person called to help.
Austin Bogart, a Luzerne County native and U.S. Forest Service hotshot, has spent the last few years battling some of the country’s most destructive wildfires. It’s a job that, he feels, he was born to do.
“What I do, it’s addicting really. It kind of… builds a fire, haha,” Bogart told Eyewitness News. “It’s weird to make that analogy, but yeah. I think about it all the time, and it’s all I wanna do.”
But now, while peak fire season is months away in the United States, Bogart is bracing himself for what may potentially be his biggest assignment yet: the wildfires tearing through Australia.
“There’s no certainty as to whether I’ll be sent there or not,” Bogart said.
The United States has already sent dozens of firefighters to Australia, and those numbers are expected to increase in the coming weeks. Bogart told Eyewitness News that he’s not only prepared, but excited that he might have the opportunity to help out on an event of such magnitude.
So far, those fires have burned more than 10 million acres of land in Australia and killed more 25 people, and an estimated 480 million animals.
The devastation isn’t expected to stop anytime soon.
“Australia’s not even in the peak of their wildfire season yet,” Bogart explained. “They still have two months. Like, they’re still on the up of their dry season. I don’t want to foreshadow, but that just says that it’s not over yet.”
Austin says that he feels like he was born to be a hotshot and can’t wait to get back out in the field.