U.S. Miltary Fights California Fires for 12th Day
On the Home Front:
SACRAMENTO, Calif., July 8, 2008 -- Airmen of the 302nd Air Expeditionary Group here began their 12th day of aerial firefighting support missions July 7 in a coordinated effort to control wildfires in California.
The 302nd AEG military airborne assets performed 69 airdrops delivering more than 100,300 gallons of fire retardant and water July 6.
To date, 302nd AEG members have performed 746 airdrops and have delivered close to 850,000 gallons of fire retardant and water since June 26.
C-130 Hercules firefighting sorties covered fires throughout the state July 7. Sixteen sorties were flown to the Basin fire within the Los Padres National Forest located five miles southeast of Big Sur as the aircraft delivered approximately 44,800 gallons of fire retardant, while 11 sorties were flown to the Piute fire located in the located in the Sequoia National Forest fire as Airmen dropped more than 30,800 gallons of retardant.
Marine CH-46E and Navy helicopters performed 42 airdrops on the Basin Complex fire, delivering approximately 24,700 gallons of water.
The C-130s covering the fires in Southern California reloaded fire retardant and refueled at Channel Islands Air National Guard Station in order to save time traveling to the wildfires in Southern California. The aircraft then returned to McClellan Airfield at the end of the flying day for maintenance and the next day's launch.
The 302nd AEG consists of three Air National Guard units -- 145th Airlift Wing from Charlotte, N.C., the 146th Airlift Wing from Channel Islands, Calif., and the 153rd Airlift Wing from Cheyenne, Wyo. -- and one Air Force Reserve unit -- the 302nd Airlift Wing from Peterson Air Force Base, Colo.
Airmen of the 302nd AEG use eight C-130s fitted with the Modular Airborne Firefighting System, which can drop up to 3,000 gallons of fire retardant per mission. They operate out of McClellan Airfield. and Navy Reserve and Marine helicopters operate out of Naval Air Station Lemoore, Calif.
Three Marine helicopter units -- Marine Medium Helicopter Training Squadron 164, Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron 268 based out of Camp Pendleton, Calif., and Marine Heavy Helicopter Squadron 465 based out of Marine Corps Air Station Miramar in San Diego -- fly CH-46E Sea Knight and CH-53E Sea Stallion helicopters equipped with specialized firefighting buckets.
Navy Reserve helicopters flying at NAS Lemoore are assigned to Helicopter Sea Combat Support Squadron 85 based out of Naval Air Station North Island, Calif. The squadron is flying MH-60S helicopters with 420- and 360-gallon specialized firefighting buckets.
The 302nd AEG provides unique capabilities and is part of a unified military support effort of U.S. Northern Command to assist to the U.S. Forest Service, CAL FIRE, and the National Interagency Fire Center.
NORTHCOM continues to monitor the California wildfires closely to anticipate additional requests for Department of Defense assistance to local, federal, and state civil authorities and will launch as many missions as officials require to battle the wildfires. Fire information is current as of 3 p.m.
(Story by Staff Sgt. Luke Johnson, 302nd Air Expeditionary Group Public Affairs.)
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