CENTENNIAL, Colo. -- The Colorado National Guard supported Bent County fire suppression efforts near Las Animas, Colorado, at the request of local authorities.

Two Colorado Army National Guard UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters and eight crew members from 2nd General Support Aviation Battalion 135th Aviation Regiment were already participating in annual wildfire bucket training when the request for assistance came in.

"Our Colorado National Guard members are on scene supporting local responders to suppress a growing wildfire," Director of the Joint Staff U.S. Air Force Brig. Gen. Gregory White said. "We are here to help save lives, minimize suffering, and protect property in this Colorado community."

The COARNG helicopter crews were training with Colorado Fire Prevention and Control and the U.S. Forest Service and local partners when the teams were requested and diverted to support civil authorities with real-world firefighting efforts at the Black Bridge Fire, so named because it began in a riverbed near a black bridge.

The helicopters and crews, equipped with aerial water buckets, were from the Chief Warrant Officer 5 David R. Carter Army Aviation Support Facility based at Buckley Air Force Base, Aurora, Colorado.

Evacuees from nine homes have been allowed to return to their properties, according to news reports. An update from the Colorado National Guard said crews dropped 78 buckets and 41,184 gallons of water and flown for 9.4 hours during the fight against the fire.