Almost 300 South African firefighters arrived in Edmonton, Canada, to help fight the raging inferno that is the Fort McMurray wildfire — and the first thing they did when they touched down was sing.
The firefighters were greeted with an enthusiastic and warm welcome from the Canadians.
A flag-wielding resident of Alberta, Ryan Byers, shook hands and thanked the 281 firefighters for traveling halfway around the world to help Canadians in their time of crisis.
“I was so grateful to shake about 100 hands and just let them know that Canada loves them and we're very grateful they're here,” Byers said. “The world loves Fort Mac, and the world is coming to help.”
The brave souls from South Africa thanked their hosts with a heartwarming song, right there on the airport terminal.
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The firefighters were chosen from many regions of South Africa in order to make sure they don’t leave any area too depleted of resources.
Firefighter Khomt Alucie said the group met just a day ago and they bonded through singing.
“It gives us moral courage, it gives us teamwork,” she said. “If we become tired in the fire we sing. It's not something you practice, it's in the soul.”
A big number of firefighters have come through “Working On Fire” — a project created a decade ago to help South African youths pull out of poverty by giving them jobs.
The firemen will be deployed at various hotspots of Fort McMurray and will be there for an estimated 14 days.
Around 2,300 firefighters, including officers from all over Canada and U.S., are actively combating the forest fire, which has destroyed over 580,000 hectares.