Wednesday, August 21, 2013

California National Guard air resources battle wildfires

MAFFS 6, a C130J from the 146th Airlift Wing in Port Hueneme, Calif., drops a line of retardant over the trees in the mountains above Palm Springs July 19, 2013. The 146th Airlift Wing was activated July 18 to support CAL Fire and CAL OES on the Mountain fire and other potential wildfire activity throughout the state. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Senior Airman Nicholas Carzis/Released)

SACRAMENTO, Calif. - Nearly a dozen aircraft and crews from the California Air and Army National Guard are battling wildfires across Northern California.

Currently, nine California Army National Guard helicopters and two California Air National Guard airtankers are working in coordination with CAL FIRE and U.S. Forest Service firefighting crews to battle the American, Swedes and Rim fires. In total the aircraft have dropped more than 250,000 gallons of water or retardant since the first crews were activated on Aug. 13.

As of Tuesday, Guard units were also involved in fighting fires in Idaho, Nevada, Oregon and Utah.
"We train for this fight every year," said Maj. Gen. David S. Baldwin, adjutant general of the California National Guard (CNG). "Our ongoing coordination with CAL FIRE and CAL OES ensures that the right people, with the right training, are in the right place when the lives and property of our fellow Californians are on the line."

Three UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters are battling the American Fire, two Black Hawks are dropping on the Rim Fire, and a team of two Black Hawks and one CH-47 Chinook helicopter are flying in support of the Swedes Fire. Meanwhile, one Black Hawk is staged in Redding on call for medevac support throughout Northern California.

Each Black Hawk is equipped with a 660-gallon water bucket, while the Chinook's bucket has a 2,000-gallon capacity. The medevac helicopter is equipped with a specialized crew and a hoist for extracting injured personnel from rugged terrain. The helicopters have completed more than 229 drops, releasing about 111,500 gallons of water since their activation on Aug. 17.

The two C-130J airtankers are fighting the Rim fire. Both aircraft are equipped with the Modular Airborne Firefighting Systems II (MAFFS) and are capable of discharging 3,000 gallons of water or retardant along the leading edge of a fire in less than five seconds, saturating an area one-quarter of a mile long by 100 feet wide.

Since their activation Aug. 13, the airtankers have completed more than 53 drops, releasing about 142,000 gallons of retardant.

As a member of the state's mutual aid system, CNG aircraft and specially trained personnel are routinely used and deployed by the Governor's Office of Emergency Services (OES) to respond to a wide range of emergencies including wildfires, search and rescue missions and other disasters throughout the state." This multi-agency coordination and resource sharing effort provides an efficient and effective way to combat the state's most difficult wildfires.