NEW YORK — After months of devastation, all the fires burning in the Australian state of New South Wales were declared contained for the first time last week. And who else to thank but the thousands of firefighters who have put their life on the line to extinguish them?
Knowing that a simple “thank you” wouldn’t suffice, the NSW Rural Fire Service took out a 70-foot billboard in New York’s Times Square to thank all the firefighters who helped battle the blazes.
The size was intentional.
“Imagine fighting a bushfire higher than this billboard,” the video in the billboard reads. “Thank you to the brave Australian and US firefighters defending Australia. And to the world for all your support.”
The ad space was donated by advertising agency Silvercast Media, according to the fire service.
Millions of acres were burned
Since last July, dozens of fires have scorched more than 17 million acres across Australia’s six states, but NSW was the hardest hit with the fires burning more than 12 million acres.
That’s approximately triple the size of Hawaii.
At least 28 people were killed, about 3,000 homes destroyed and up to 1 billion animals affected.
In total, more than 2,000 firefighters battled the fires. Many of them traveled from around the world to help — the US sent 200 of its own. Not all of them made it home. In January, three American firefighters were killed when their water tanker plane crashed while fighting a bushfire from the air.
Learn more about what you can do to help the firefighters and victims of the Australia fires here.