By Sgt. Bradley CooneyApril 18, 2018
Mooreland, Okla. - Oklahoma's historic wildfire conditions led to fires spreading fast and firefighters scrambling to extinguish the blazes and mitigate the damage.
As the high winds and dry conditions continued, the Oklahoma Department of Emergency Management requested support from the Oklahoma National Guard to help augment local firefighters in containing and snuffing out fires. Nearly 400,000 acres have burned so far.
"We have provided air wildfire suppression over the last few days," said Col. Hiram Tabler, director of military support for the Oklahoma National Guard. "We've used Black Hawk and Chinook helicopters to support those efforts."
For the first time ever, the Oklahoma National Guard is also assisting the firefighters on the ground with the transportation of water through the use of an Army water supply tank called a "hippo."
"We haven't done this mission before," Tabler said. "It's the first time we've partnered with forestry and the emergency management office to really get ground forces [for] support."
Coordination for and providing ground support using the hippo is a new operation for Oklahoma Guardsmen.
"We've pushed some of our hippo water trailers out to support some of the fire task forces out of the Mooreland area," Tabler said. "They're carrying water to the task forces to support the fire trucks that don't hold as much water as the hippos do."
As of Sunday, the hippos have delivered nearly 9,000 gallons of water to fire line brush pumpers and continue to work around the clock.
"We've heard great things about supporting the effort there," Tabler said. "They're able to fight the fires quicker than they have in the past."
Since 8:00 a.m. on Monday, the Oklahoma National Guard has provided more than 32,000 gallons of water for firefighters fighting wild fires near Taloga, Oklahoma.
Black Hawk helicopters remain on standby in multiple locations and are ready to support the fire suppression mission if called on.