LITTLETON, Colo. -- A park in downtown Littleton represents the decades-long friendship with the small Australian town called Bega, located about 5 hours south of Sydney. The sister city agreement between Littleton and Bega began in 1961.
“The people are just amazing. They are the warmest people you would ever meet,” said Mary Recht. She’s the president for the Bega Littleton Sister City Exchange.
Jan Brosseau is the former program president. For both Coloradans, seeing the fires ruin a place they've grown to love has left them heartbroken.
“The beautiful, pristine coast that we are used to seeing, he says it doesn’t look like that right now,” Brosseau recalled of a conversation with a friend in Bega.
Brosseau says they say the town has been spared so far but the surrounding areas are on fire. One friend even compared the situation to the apocalypse.
Australia is suffering through the worst wildfires seen in decades. Twenty-four people have died and at least 2,000 homes have been damaged or destroyed in New South Wales alone.
Millions of animals are also feared dead.
“It's just devastating,” said Brosseau.
“These are animals that are just from Australia. You just don't see them anywhere else except the zoo,” added Recht.
Recht says they are keeping their friends Down Under in their hearts and prayers just as the people of Bega have done for them. In fact, Recht says Bega built a memorial park for the victims of the Columbine shooting.
“We are that close of friends. Our hearts just ache each time either side is going through peril,” said Recht.
For anyone looking to donate to those impacted by the fires in Bega and the surrounding areas can write a check to the City of Littleton attention: Bega.
For more ways to help, visit the New South Wales Rural Fire Service's website.