Colorado Guard aircrews assisting in Black Forest fire relief efforts
June 14, 2013
CENTENNIAL, Colo. (June 14, 2013) -- Personnel from the Colorado Army National Guard are continuing to assist civil authorities with firefighting support at the Black Forest fire in El Paso County, Colo.
A total of three UH-60 Black Hawks, each equipped with an aerial firefighting bucket capable of carrying and delivering nearly 500 gallons of water at a time, have dropped approximately 30,000 gallons of water on the fire so far.
One LUH-72 Lakota helicopter has also been provided for aerial firefighting coordination.
Thirteen members of the 1157th Firefighting Company (Engineers), along with their firefighting trucks and tenders, are also actively engaged in fighting the fire.
Two Wyoming National Guard Civil Support Team personnel provided an initial commercial Internet and phone support bridge between military and civilian responders until they were relieved by eight Airmen from the Colorado National Guard's Joint Incident Site Communications Capability, or JISCC, Team 16. The JISCC team will continue to support the incident command with communications support as needed.
Additionally, 40 personnel from Colorado's National Guard Reaction Force have been placed at security checkpoints in the Black Forest area.
The Colorado Army National Guard is operating under immediate response authority to assist the El Paso County Sheriff's Department in fighting the Black Forest fire.
"It's always painful to see neighbors in harm's way," said Air Force Maj. Gen. H. Michael Edwards, Colorado's adjutant general. "That's why domestic operations is one of the most rewarding missions we have in the National Guard. I have every confidence in the Colorado National Guard Citizen-Soldiers we have supporting civil authorities. Not only are most combat veterans, but they are wildfire veterans from the tragic fires of last summer."
The Colorado Army National Guard helicopters and crews launched from the Army Aviation Support Facility on Buckley Air Force Base in Aurora, Colo., and are members of 2nd Battalion, 135th General Support Aviation.
At the request of civilian agencies, Fort Carson firefighters from the Pinon Canyon Maneuver Site Fire Station joined firefighting efforts south of Colorado Springs to help contain the La Veta Fire through a mutual aid agreement between the post and surrounding communities along the Front Range.
Fort Carson is also supporting firefighting efforts to protect residents in the Black Forest area with bulldozer support to establish firebreaks and helicopters to provide airdrop capabilities.
One engine with water tender and four personnel helped fight fires at the La Veta Fire west of Walsenburg.
A convoy departed Fort Carson the morning of June 12, 2013, to assist with firebreak efforts in the Black Forest area with four D7 bulldozers along with various maintenance support and fuel personnel.
Two CH-47 Chinooks are currently providing fire drops on the Black Forest Fire, with another UH-60 Black Hawk aircrew preparing to join efforts.