SACRAMENTO, Calif. – At the request of the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services, the California National Guard deployed four of its helicopters and aircrews Sunday morning to assist California Department of Fire and Forestry Protection (CAL FIRE) firefighting operations at the Deer and Curry Fires. The request came Friday through the California Office of Emergency Services (Cal OES).
“This is a call we’ve been anticipating, so our air crews are geared up and ready to support,” said Maj. Gen. David S. Baldwin, Adjutant General for the California National Guard. “Cal Guardsmen train year-round with CAL FIRE and Cal OES; we know it takes everyone on board to effectively combat these immense fires.”
The four Army National Guard aircraft active in supporting CAL FIRE include two UH-60 Black Hawk and two CH-47 Chinook helicopters. The aircraft provide water drop, medical evacuation and personnel and equipment transportation capabilities. The Cal Guard is also supporting with two HEMMT fuel tankers at the fires in Kern and Fresno counties.
“These four additional helicopters will help to augment our aerial firefighting fleet ahead of the upcoming July 4th holiday,” said Chief Ken Pimlott, CAL FIRE director. “Approximately 95 percent of fires we respond to are caused by people and their activities. We urge everyone to visit www.ReadyForWildfire.org to see how they can prevent fires from starting in the first place. One less spark means one less wildfire.”
“After five years of historically dry conditions around the state, this fire season has again proven to be very active and destructive,” said Cal OES Director Mark Ghilarducci. “Thankfully our state mutual aid system has the flexibility to call upon the critical assets of the California National Guard helicopters and crews to assist those already on the fire lines burning around the state.”
In each of the last three years, Cal Guard aircraft have dropped more than 1 million gallons of water and retardant on wildfires across California. The aircraft have also streamed real-time, thermal imagery of the fires to incident commanders on the ground. In addition, the Cal Guard has mobilized several hundred ground personnel to provide transportation, security, and fire-line support in each of the past few years.
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